Tone of voice is a vital piece of the marketing puzzle, a chance to showcase your brand in the most subtle ways. It might be a slight nuance, a word here and there, a stylistic choice in a piece of writing, but it has the power to make a significant impact – and you shouldn’t ignore it in SEO copy. 

Whether you’re writing brand side or you’re part of an agency, you should consider tone of voice in every piece of copy, be it an email newsletter, PPC ads, or a portion of SEO copy hidden in the site’s depths. 

We will look into the basics of building a brand, building trust with consumers, and incorporating those tone of voice nuggets into yet another piece of content that has been ordered. Let’s begin. 

What is Brand Communication?

It is woven into the vernacular that you use, the language that is chosen, and how you choose to put a brand out into the world. It runs through all of the channels you choose to appear on, including your owned media, and how you are portrayed through the eyes and ears of your customers. 

This is a huge opportunity where tone of voice comes into play, a space where brand strategy and creativity collide. Tone of voice helps consumers to build a relationship with a brand or business, to get to know them better like they would with a friend. They will come to expect certain words and turns of phrase over time, and we will get onto consistency in tone of voice shortly. 

Brand communication is underpinned by a strong tone of voice, on all channels, all the time, without fail. 

How Tone of Voice impacts SEO Copywriting 

When you’re writing for SEO, it is a hard truth that tone of voice can often get thrown out of the window – particularly when there are multiple people with opinions having their say on keywords, deadlines, and content within the piece. 

However, tone of voice in SEO copywriting is an underrated tool. It is a chance to showcase the tone through clever and compelling copy, that appeals to the readers as well as ranking for the search terms. 

If you’re an SEO copywriter, the chances are that you will have heard the age-old saying that no one reads the SEO copy anyway, and this is actually a load of rubbish. SEO copy is written to be read and so it should be treated as such. Plus, seeing stylistic choices and on-brand copy within the SEO copy helps to cement that brand love and brand trust, another touchpoint you can count on to build those relationships with potential customers and existing ones too. 

Don’t be put off or dissuaded by the number of briefs that are piling up, but I do know that this is easier said than done. When time is of the essence and the clock is ticking, brand voice and tone is usually the first thing to fall. But treat yourself like the brand guardian you know you are and keep those standards high when writing SEO copy. 

Why do we need to build Trust anyway?

Trust is an integral part of the buying process. So long are the days when conversions were easy and cheap deals were the thing to win people over. People want to know, like and trust a brand before they commit, and invest emotionally in what a brand is saying, the values and how they put themselves across. Building trust, in turn, builds more sales. 

Building a Brand

It takes a village. 

Building a brand doesn’t happen overnight and finessing a tone of voice is another thing that takes time. But, by implementing it into every piece of marketing and every piece of on-page copy, we are setting standards and working out the kinks as we go. No one is saying it has to be perfect from the off, but it does have to have a level of consistency in how it is rolled out. Building a brand takes work and it takes these finer details to separate you from the next and one from another. Teamwork and tiny details are the combinations you want to strike a balance with, here.

Plugging into other Channels

We have touched on SEO and mentioned some other channels for the heck of it too, but it is important to know that tone of voice needs to echo through every single thing you do. It needs to sound the same whether they are reading on-page copy, opening a physical letter, reading a social post or even coming to see the brand face to face – it is all about the holistic experience and tone of voice is the thing that joins the dots and pulls everything into alignment. 

Writing Tone of Voice for Humans 

Tone of voice allows us to flow a little more freely with how we write, bringing in words we might not normally use in a written piece, and adapting things to make them more reader-friendly. This is where a disconnect can happen when we start to stuff keywords into SEO content in order to hit a word count or to get an exact match, and the integrity of the piece starts to fade away. Remember that you are writing for humans, not Google, and so sounding like a human is preferable to sounding like a robot – or as if a piece of software had written your copy (we know it is a thing, let’s not dwell on that!)

Tone of voice also has the power to impact how people feel about your brand or business. This is such an important factor in the buying process, the idea of emotional investment and how people buy. If you can give a piece of copy the power to make people feel something, why wouldn’t you take that route?

Speaking on Social Media

How we speak on social media and how we speak on web copy may have slight differences. What may be slightly more conversational on an Instagram post, may have a little more structure and a little shine to them. Having said that consistency is important, and slight differences are acceptable from platform to platform, but we need to be building that brand trust, and consistent communication is a sure-fire way to help that. 

What happens when we get the Tone of Voice wrong?

So, we have talked about how we get it right, but what happens when we get it wrong and write copy that isn’t in the tone of voice we have crafted? Things go south. 

People get to know a brand, whether they know it or not and seeing written content that isn’t in line with what they have read before can be really jarring. They may notice an abundance of keywords, clear sales tactics in SEO copy, and general unrest that it really doesn’t sound like the brand they have been following or learning about. 

Ultimately, it breaks down that brand trust. 

Keywords can be the cause of this, trying to shove them where they don’t belong, and creating a piece that sounds stuffed and twisted to the point of it not making sense. 

There are so many words in the English language, 171,476 to be precise – as of 2021, and the crossover of meanings results in a multiple-choice style quiz for choosing the one for your piece. Now, just because it isn’t in your long long list of keywords, doesn’t mean it isn’t the right one. 

A consistent tone of voice helps to build trust. It also means that the copy looks like it actually belongs to you, rather than it being the equivalent of being stolen off the back of a van to fill the void on your website. We’d all rather have something that was written for us, right?

Contemplating Tone of Voice in brand and SEO copy

Why is brand identity important to customers

It makes them feel something, part of the bigger picture. Brand identity helps them to fill the gaps for themselves and get to know a brand on a deeper level. Tone of voice is a helpful component in this and makes sure all comms are singing from the same hymn sheet.

Why brand voice matters

Brand voice is how a brand speaks. It is in the length of the sentences, the types of words that are used, the use of technical language or the lack of it, and who the brand actually wants to speak to. If you want a tip for this, speak as they speak, the people you are targeting, and use their own language in front of them. 

Why brand loyalty is important

Brand loyalty is the thing that keeps them coming back for more and what makes them tell their friends and family about you. It is a positive experience, getting to know a brand on a deeper level, and resonating with their beliefs and the causes that they support. Building brand loyalty takes a long time, but the consistent tone and messaging can ensure that at each touchpoint, you are getting closer to having that loyal customer. 

How social media positively affects communication

Social media is seen as both the devil and the best thing since sliced bread. It has created platforms for different voices to be heard and for new people to take a turn at the mic. This helps us understand the language better and how we can use it to talk to the right people in the right places – SEO copy being one of them. Social media has forced us to understand language in a digital age and to progress the way we write things and write for human beings, as opposed to an algorithm.

Why content marketing is important for business

It is a piece of the puzzle that we need to include and can complement other avenues that we are choosing. When done well, content marketing like blogs and articles, infographics and whitepapers, can enhance the core marketing activities and make things like SEO work harder. Think about consistency in tone across these channels and just how powerful that could be. 

Why SEO copy is still relevant in 2022

It is more relevant than ever. People are always looking to the internet for answers and spending more time online. We check out reviews, recommendations, and web content before making any decisions, so making sure the space they land in feels informative and on-brand is key to driving SEO success in 2022 and beyond. 

I will leave you with this; SEO strategies are designed to drive traffic and get people on site, but it is going to be the SEO copy that forces them to take action, or even converts them. Copy that is bland and lacking in personality will have a harder time doing that, but the copy that is written in the brand’s tone of voice and is engaging to read will have a much better success rate.

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Molly is the founder of Effable and specialises in elevating the voices of impact-driven brands through copy and PR. Having worked in marketing and PR for ten years, she set up solo in 2021.

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