It can be time consuming to create a voice online and needs a careful balance of the right words in the right places. Too much voice and it can be distracting and sound too `constructed`. Too little and it can sound bland and `safe`. But it’s easier than it might seem to create a voice online (without breaking copyright law), perfectly suited to your brand and your website.
A lot of people choose not put much thought into how to create a voice online because it seems too much effort to get it right in the first place – better to be safe.
But a really simple way to create a voice online to give your website and your brand a real personality is to find one you like, and stick it in your pocket for later!
By that I don’t mean find a cool website and use death-by-cut-and-paste. Not only is it illegal and ethically pretty rubbish, but it will damage your SEO, too.
What I mean is, think of a character, celebrity, personality, friend, colleague – anyone – who talks and sounds like what you’re hoping to achieve, and start taking notes!
Having a voice on your website is massively important because people need to feel like they’re talking to a real person. It helps to make people like your content, share it, and want to be a part of it.
But why bother trying to create a completely new voice, carefully mapping out the right word choices and deciding how to structure your sentences when you can learn from people already use the voice you want?
Let me give you an example…
Imagine you have a Victorian Tea Room selling exquisite cups of freshly brewed tea and Lady Anne’s homemade Bakewell Tarts. Who do you know, what can you watch, and where will you find the type of language used by people that represent that voice you want to create?
Could you sit with a pen and notepad and watch an episode or two of Downton Abbey? Listen to the words that the housemaids and butlers use. How do they address others in the house? What words do they use that aren’t common in today’s cafeteria chatter?
Or what about how Mr Darcy speaks? How does Kazua Ishiguru write from the butler’s point-of-view in The Remains of the Day. (great book BTW) Do you have a butler yourself?
Now the idea is to write the content on your website using those words and phrases that you’ve observed and made note of. Include some of the phrases they use that seem unique to that kind of character, start sentences in a similar way and use pauses and breaks in the sentence in a similar pattern.
Create a voice in the right places
There are many different things you need to consider if you want to truly stand out on the web with your tone of voice. But your pages shouldn’t be dripping with voice – it becomes a bit over-bearing and too forced.
That does depend, of course, on how strong you want the personality to be (think Bombardier Real Ale adverts with Rik Mayall – WOOF!) But there are some key places where you can add that extra bit of personality to your pages without needing to be a pro writer who dedicates all their time to getting it right.
As a general rule, think about where your audience are likely to look first, or skim and scan through. After all, most readers of your website won’t read your pages from top to bottom – they’ll pick the bits that leap out at them.
So if you’re not sure, use your newly acquired style in the following places to create a voice:
- main heading
- strapline (if you have one)
- at least one sub-heading
- opening paragraph
- closing paragraph
- 2-3 times every 100 or so words
Those of you clued up on SEO will note this is very similar to how you place SEO keywords. But that’s why Google likez you to put them in these places – it’s not random, it’s where your audience look to make sure the page is relevant and useful.
Think about design
Design and branding plays an equally important role in how you create a voice online. Just because it’s visual doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect how we interpret the words being used.
Would Mr Darcy be a believable character if he word shorts and a T-shirt?
If the design of your brand and the overall `look and feel` of your website doesn’t match the voice, it shatters the illusion.
In short, if you want it to create a voice online that sounds believable, it has to look believable too. Make it believable and people will create an emotional connection with it. And your website will be more effective at converting visitors into customers.
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