All about Tone: Why Your Voice Is Just as Important as Your Message in SEO Writing

May 10, 2011    No Comments

When it comes to what you’re trying to say through your SEO writing, the how is just as important as the what.  

A golden rule to writing for SEO purposes to establish a voice that’s in line with your audience, balance your explanations just right and let them know what you can do for them, and you’ll turn your customers in raving fans in no time.

I chose to dedicate this blog post to tone and why it’s important to tailor your message in a way that your target audience will both understand what you’re saying and read what you’ve written with the sense that you’re someone that they can trust.

To get an idea of what, exactly, tone is, think about conversations that you have in your life:

Typically, you can tell when someone is conveying happiness, sadness, sarcasm, excitement or anything else through their pitch, facial expression, and body language.

While you don’t have that benefit when trying to sell a product or idea over the internet, the principals behind them still apply to SEO writing.

What do I mean?

Let’s take a look at the anatomy of written content and it’ll all make sense by the end of this post.

It’s All about Your Audience

  • “Your job will be selling top-of-the-line computers to customers and helping them with any questions that they might have. On top of that, you’ll also have to work on computer repair and maintenance as needed.”
  • “The ideal candidate will be responsible for the sale as well as the occasional service and maintenance of brand name personal computers. Candidate will also act in a customer service role by answering customer inquiries related to our products. ”

Each of these lines for a want ad at a computer store says exactly the same thing, but goes about conveying its message in a completely different way. While neither is generally the wrong way to go about getting your message across, it can be wrong, depending on your audience.

The first excerpt might be ideal for something like a TV ad, a face-to-face with a hiring manager, or a direct response ad on the company’s website.

It’s succinct. It’s to the point. It’s conversational.

The second might be better for a business-to-business communication, like if the hiring company sent something to a temp agency or ad company, for instance. You would be more likely find something like the latter on an online job board as well, though I’ve seen examples of the former too.

It takes some time to read through. It has to be dissected. Its language is very professional.

The principal differences illustrated through these two examples largely apply to SEO writing as well.

In the end, the tone that you use is one of the cornerstones of the writing that you can determine by knowing your audience.

Your Tone is ALWAYS Important: SEO Writing Included

I want you to remember that, because it’s one of the most important parts of SEO content writing, even though it isn’t something that many readers consciously think about.

How your writing comes across to the reader will directly influence his or her decision about whether or not to bring out the credit card and buy from you or your client.

Think about some of these areas and I’ll show you what I mean:

Perspective

You know all about first (“I/we”), second (“you”), and third (“he/she/it/they”) person perspectives, right?  Take a look at the two want ads that are at the start of the last section. One uses second person while the other uses third.

Many times in SEO writing, it’s better to use a second person perspective.

Why?

You want the person to buy something. That’s why!

One of the best ways to sell someone on something, whether it is hiring an SEO company, selling a home improvement service, or getting someone to buy an E-Book, is to tell them how they would benefit. 

Think about this: Would you be more inclined to buy from an AC repairman who says:

  • “I can fix air conditioners better than anyone else!”
  • “It can be fixed in no time!”
  • “You’ll have a cool and comfortable summer no matter how hot it gets outside with me working for you!”

People like hearing about what they get out of something, especially when their hard earned dollars are on the line. Appeal to them before you even think about boasting about your own abilities.

Knowledge

When it comes to selling, SEO writing, or just plain convincing someone to do something, the more you know about what you’re trying to sell the person, the better.

You want to convey expertise in your product or service just enough that the reader is confident paying you, but not so much that you come across as a know-it-all.

Keep explanations to the point and only explain enough that your reader has a basic understanding.

Don’t give a half-baked explanation of what you’re selling because your readers will see right through it. 

Don’t tell them too much and have an ultra-detailed wall of text that explains every little thing. The way many brains have been rewired through constant internet use, they’ll skim the page, see how detailed it is and frown in disgust.    

You’ll give your reader a headache and have them hitting the back button on their browser before you know it.

Personality

In this respect, SEO writing is a lot like establishing good link building relationships in that you want your writing to let you build a rapport with your reader. You can do this by considering how you talk to them and how those words will eventually lead them on to what you want to try and sell them.

Many times, the best practice with written SEO content is to establish an easy going, conversational voice with your reader, much like you would do with a friend or family member if you were explaining something to them.

In many ways, how your personality comes across can tie into the knowledge that was mentioned earlier.

This is especially true if your SEO writing is for business-to-business purposes. Yes, you want to keep a professional air that radiates confidence. Beyond that, clients who read that sort of writing might better identify with you if you use jargon specific to their industry. For example, in writing SEO content for a client who deals in finance, you might use words like downturn, return on investment, or equity. These words aren’t typically used in everyday conversation unless you speak with financiers and investment banks all day.

Likewise, the same could be applied to goods and services that you’d be selling to everyday people who are likely looking for solutions to common problems. When this is the case (and it often is in SEO writing) colloquialisms are your best friends.

  • “You made a good call by getting in touch with us when you noticed the damage”
  • “These cool suggestions for bedroom remodeling projects will give your home some new life in no time!"
  • “Don’t let a leaky faucet rack up charges on your water bill! Call a master plumber today!”

Common words and expressions like this help put a reader’s mind at ease and show them that you can be trusted to deliver on the services that you promise in your writing.

When it comes to establishing a tone through your SEO writing, the things that I’ve pointed out here are just some of what you can do to craft strong, convincing copy that will help with your site’s conversion rates.

Written by: Arsham Mirshah (68 Articles)

WebMechanix co-founder, technical SEO, Google analytics junkie, & web dev'r who loves to ski, play tennis and demonstrate ROI.

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