Copy Voice in the Age of SEO

Over the years I have heard the line, “Nobody reads copy anymore.” more times than I can count. Catalogs have cut copy in an effort to appeal to the “new” copy averse customer. Meanwhile on the web, thanks to the new Google algorithm, the BEST way to get ranked highly in search is to have lots of copy. These two competing issues are going to be just hell on your branded copy voice.

Copy voice considerations


First let me just say that I made a promise years ago to Herschel Gordon Lewis to fight the good fight against the myth that nobody reads copy anymore. Of course they do, they just don’t read stupid, irrelevant copy anymore. If you write great, interesting copy, everyone will read it. Think about the blog revolution we are living in. Copy is a major component of infotainment. It isn’t the copy, it’s the quality.

If you are selling shirts and you want your white linen dress shirt to rank well in SEO for terms like linen dress shirt, and men’s linen shirt, you need to say things about linen and dress shirts that are relevant to customers searching for a white linen dress shirt. Most linen dress shirts being sold are in the mid-price range and they need copy to differentiate them and to assure the customer that they are making the right purchase decision. If you are a high-end purveyor of shirts, in a catalog, less copy is actually the way to go. A customer who spends $300 on a shirt is comfortable that the shirt they are buying is fabulous because it costs $300. Adding more irrelevant copy is a waste of the customer’s time. The high price replaces the assurance that copy brings to the purchasing decision. On the low-end the same thing is true. If you are a deep discounter, all your customers really care about is the price. They don’t want to be romanced, they want to save money. So a linen dress shirt for $19.99 is pretty much all the information customers motivated by price are looking for. But on the web, just having a price is the kiss of death. So while mid-range merchants are going to have to craft a smart copy voice that works across channels, the high and low-end merchants are going to have to invent a compelling copy voice that speaks to their already disinterested customer base in a way that gets them ranked well without sounding boastful, snarky or boring.

Crafting a copy voice for your brand that works across channels AND has strong SEO is going to be the next big challenge for multi-channel merchants. We have asked Jason Sawtell of Skywords to talk about the changes we are facing and discuss some strategies for creating smart copy that works across channels. It is going be an important topic for future growth.

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Sarah Fletcher
Creative Director Catalog Design Studios Inc.
Co-Founder Catalog University