See Yourself as Others See You

I firmly believe that search engine optimisation (SEO) will do away with deplorable marketing puff. Why? Because search engines demand that we use plain English to describe our products and services if we want our websites to be found by potential customers. This means companies need to craft content containing words that resonate with the general public as opposed to the classic mantras such as 'market leading provider of [insert industry field here] solutions'. I welcome that, as I've been a strong opponent of needless puff for a long time.

I recently consulted on the re-writing of a website which was under-performing. The company was keen to describe itself a certain way which, while suiting its branding and not puffy at all, was not consistent with the way the public would be searching for its product online. A simple visit to Google's Keyword Tool helped us source the appropriate keywords that consumers were most likely to use to find the type of products the company offered. We redrafted the text and within a week – that quickly – the company was well placed in the top half Google’s first page of search.

The lesson here is to step away from your brand and see it as other people see you. If you're a double glazing firm, say so, resist the temptation to load your site with text about being 'a leading provider of insulation solutions' because Joe Public isn't searching online for that. They're too busy looking for 'double glazing', and they'll find your rivals if you're not careful.

Due to the sheer numbers of people searching for some keywords, a simple re-draft of the homepage is often worth more than many an expensive PR programme. But although we may see the long-overdue demise of marketing puff, there's still the need for creative, SEO-savvy copywriters to make that content come to life and draw in traffic.

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