If you maintain a blog with your ecommerce site, honing your copywriting skills can make it more popular and increase the possibility it will appear higher in search results.
Online copywriting involves three parts: site readability, search engine friendliness, and writing skills.
1. Make your Blog Easy to Read
Even though tablets have made digital text easier to read, computer monitors are not ideal. Here are pointers to help.
- Keep paragraphs short. Long paragraphs make comprehension difficult. It’s best to limit them to no more than three or four lines each.
- Use bold and italics to highlight certain words and phrases. Using them to emphasize main points will help the copy and can draw readers into the details of the paragraph.
- Use subheadings. When you change topics within a post, it’s always good to identify that with a subheading. Using a header tag is helpful. There are different levels of header tags, classified by number. An “H1” tag, for example, is used for main titles, while the “H3” tag is good for subtitles and subheadings. In this post, for example, “1. Make your Blog Easy to Read” is an H3 subheading.
- Break up the copy by using bulleted points and numbered lists.
- Use a larger font size. According to web design resource site Smashing Magazine, age plays a significant factor in how well people read online. “At age 40, only half the light gets through to the retina as it did at age 20. For 60-year-olds, it’s just 20%,” said the site. Although there is no one best font size, many sites now use 16 pixels.
You could also give readers the option of choosing a font size. They can do that using the browser, but you can facilitate resizing through the use of a plugin (assuming you use WordPress), jQuery, or CSS.
- Allow plenty of white space around the text. This gives the eye a chance to rest as it follows line copy.
- Make your index page easy to scan. One sure way to give your blog greater vitality is to keep copy on the home page short, so that readers can easily scan the page and see more posts. Allow no more than two or three paragraphs on the home page per post.
Most blog platforms provide means by which you can limit the amount of characters that appear on the home page for each post. WordPress, for example, has a “more” button in its rich text editor. The point where that option is inserted in a post is where it breaks. The portion above the “more” gets included in the index page; the remainder of the post does not.
2. Write with Search Engines in Mind
- Use keywords. One of the best ways to optimize a blog for search engines is by including a keyword associated with the topic of your post in the title and two or three times in the body copy.
- Link to relevant resources. One factor Google takes into account when attempting to understand your blog’s theme is where links point. If there is topical relevance, your chances of appearing near the top in search results increase.
- Focus on quality, not word count. In the past, many search-engine-optimization experts recommended a minimum word count of roughly 300. Longer posts faired better. Today, Google emphasizes quality, not quantity. To quote one SEO expert, “Write for your reader and Google will figure it out.”
Google says that the best way to rank is to “ensure that it contains plenty of rich information that includes relevant keywords, used appropriately, that indicate the subject matter of your content.”
“Write for your reader and Google will figure it out.”
3. Hone your Writing Skills
Now that your blog is easier to read and you have tuned the copy to appeal to search engines, there is one thing is left to do: improve your writing skills. Here are some tips that can help.
- Find your voice. A good blog reflects the personality and style of the blogger, qualities that are best revealed in the tone, or “voice,” of the copy. Finding your voice is about feeling comfortable with your writing and knowing whom you are writing to. Understanding the makeup of your audience will enable you to determine what tone to use.
- Tell a story. Simply sharing facts lacks the power that stories can provide to evoke emotion and get the reader involved. A good resource to learn the art of storytelling is Copyblogger. It contains numerous articles on the subject.
- Use good grammar. Blog writing tends to be informal and conversational. However, that’s not an excuse to use poor grammar. Three online resources I rely on are as follows.
- Grammarly. A grammar checking tool that ranks highly in accuracy, ease of use, and that offers help in learning proper grammar. It also checks for plagiarism to ensure sources are properly cited.
- Thesaurus.com. Part of a suite that includes Dictionary.com, the site suggests synonyms and antonyms.
- Grammar Girl. A blog that provides punctuation and grammar usage guidelines.
In addition, a book I keep handy is William Strunk’s The Elements of Style, a popular American English writing guide.
- Proofread your copy. Before clicking the publish button, review the copy to ensure there are no typos or other grammatical errors, and that the content is as well written and informative. Always spell check.
Improving these three factors — site readability, search engine friendliness, and writing skills — can make your blog easier and more enjoyable to read, and achieve better rankings in search.