A craftsman is only as good as his tools, or so the saying goes. While Banc copywriters wouldn’t normally open a blog with such a baggy cliché, there’s some truth in this turn of phrase, and one that can be applied to most professions — be it butcher, baker or digital copy-maker (yep, we went there).
For those dipping their toes into the tepid copywriting waters for the first time, complex briefs, towering word counts and the need to impress the ubiquitous search engines can prove daunting. But with the right tools, plus a semi-decent vocabulary, even the most inexperienced of wordsmiths can dole out some respectable copy — in theory at least.
Here, we list seven useful tools to help improve your in-house copywriting.
Grandiosely labelled an ‘English language writing-enhancement platform’, Grammarly is, in layman’s terms, a proofreading tool and anti-plagiarism resource. The platform adheres to over 250 unique grammar rules, more than MS Word, and offers in-depth analysis on issues and errors, helping to improve understanding.
While we’d always recommend proofreading copy yourself, Grammarly provides an additional measure of assurance, and could make all the difference to the quality of copy you’re adding to your company site. Before you get started, just remember to switch the default language setting to British English (you can do this in My Grammarly > Profile).
And best of all? You’ll no longer need to put up with Word’s annoying ‘Fragment (consider revising)’ alert.
While Copyscape can’t make words dance from your fingertips, it can make sure the ones you conjure up aren’t duplicate of existing copy on the web — which is good news from an SEO perspective. Google hates copy which directly plagiarises other sites, and could penalise you and your site for publishing duplicate content, tarnishing your reputation and potentially leading to a slump in search rankings.
Using Copyscape is simple – you just add the URL of your page to the search bar, and the programme will find a list of pages where identical phrases occur, so you can make sure your copy is entirely unique — even across other pages on your own site.
In the same breath, the tool is also great for site owners keen to make sure no third parties have half-inched their articles and landing page copy. Sign up to Copyscape Premium, and you can perform a complete audit of your site to trace signs of theft and plagiarism — helping you to avoid duplicate content penalties.
3. Google AdWords Keyword Planner
Without straying too far into the meat and might of Google’s powerful AdWords Keyword Planner, this is a handy tool from a copywriting perspective.
Say you’re just getting started on a bumper batch of landing pages for your company site, intent on optimising them for both humans and search bots. Google’s Keyword Planner will help you find search-friendly phrases that add more value and context to the copy, so you can optimise it with niche, long tail terms that help search engines, and your readership, determine what the page is all about.
Don’t get carried away with chucking keywords into every sentence and paragraph, however. Keyword stuffing is a big no-no across all search engines, and will certainly do more harm than good in the short and long term. Instead, use Keyword Planner as a guide to expand your keywords into longer terms that add greater value and relevancy to the page.
Favoured by A-level English students hoping to ace their creative writing coursework, Thesaurus.com is a one-stop shop for all your synonym needs. The site features an impressive collection of words and phrases relevant to the search term, so you can pen the perfect title, introduction or CTA without overdoing certain niche words.
While most copywriters would scoff at the idea of using a thesaurus, those not confident writing unique and creative website copy on a large scale could benefit from a little vocab boost. Provided you don’t overdo it that is, or else this paragraph could wind up reading something like this:
Whereas copywriters in the majority would pooh-pooh employing an onomasticon, those not sanguine in penning special and demiurgic web page copy on a hefty scale could prosper from a bantam vocab upgrade.
You get the idea.
5. Word Counter
Word count is currency in the copywriting game, so you’ve got to respect the digits. While most of the major word processors feature a word count function, they offer no additional functionality. Enter Word Counter, a free tool that does a whole lot more than just tally up the words you tap into your keyboard.
One of Word Counter’s greatest USPs is its automatic keyword counter function, which routinely analyses a sample of your copy to find repeated words and phrases. Perfect for avoiding keyword stuffing, this helpful function also ensures your copy remains readable, with no recurring phrases to make the reader cringe.
And that’s not the only trick up Word Counter’s sleeve. Choose to type directly into its rather basic WYSIWYG, and you can set up alerts which ping when you reach a certain word count. There’s also the option to check average sentence length, monitor your typing speed, and have your copy read back to you by a robot — making Word Counter much more than just a word totter upper.
As featured in our guide to staying focused while you write, Freedom is a programme that lets you block certain sites that lie at the root of procrastination, be it Facebook, Twitter or BBC Weather. Available across multiple devices, Freedom gives you the power to remove distractions from your day, so you can focus on the tasks that really matter — perfect for the dallying copywriter who would prefer to do a million other things than writing yet another product description.
7. EMV Headline Analyser
Emotional marketing value (EMV) might sound like a tacky buzzword coined by someone grossly overpaid, but it’s one of the most important terms to understand from a content marketing perspective — and one all budding and expert copywriters should be aware of.
In simple terms, EMV is used to calculate how likely a person is to respond to marketing materials, specifically their emotional response. The term came to fruition in the early 1970s, when Dr Hakim Chishti, a research scholar for the US government, found that different emotional responses can be achieved through language.
Given the clickbait culture of the web, optimising the EMV of an article is now more important than ever. Enter the EMV Headline Analyser, a handy tool which lets copywriters review the EMV of their titles. The tool was created by the Advanced Marketing Institute, and uses a special algorithm to analyse the title based on a number of EMV impact words, which are thought to trigger an emotional response in the reader.
Not quite ready to tackle that mountain of landing pages on your lonesome? Let the Banc Media copywriting team take care of it for you, thesauruses and all. For more information, get in touch on 0345 459 0558 or at [email protected].