How Ancient Greek Rhetoric Can Improve Your SEO Copywriting

A lot of people think that SEO copywriting is all about dropping the right keywords into a block of text enough times so that search engines think that your website is relevant for your chosen keyword and this simply isn’t true. Keyword density isn’t a huge consideration for Google as long as you are sensible and avoid user unfriendly keyword stuffing.

Talking about writing techniques in the office, we got to discussing the classics and rhetoric – the study and use of language for persuasive effect which is something all writers whose job it is to sell products online should be interested in hearing about!

There are three persuasive appeals: logos, ethos and pathos. Each of these can play a key role in winning your readers around and persuading them to perform the action you suggest at the end of your writing.

Logos means logic, so you appeal to your audience with facts and figures, a key part of copywriting. Being able to draw on numbers, facts and figures not only grabs the reader’s attention as statistics break up blocks of text, but it also puts forward a rational argument as to why your reader should buy your product or service. The human mind loves logic and if this is correct then you can’t lose, e.g. customer is looking for weedkiller and product testing has shown that 98% of weeds don’t grow back and customer research shows that out of 100 people, 78% would recommend to a friend for example.

In rhetoric, Ethos is about credibility and establishing yourself as a credible speaker by demonstrating their knowledge and expertise but ultimately, this is something that is inferred by your audience as it depends entirely on how the writer presents his or herself. For example, many graduates choose not to use letters after their name e.g. Bsc or MA but there are other ways to establish credibility.

You could also say in the more modern meaning that ethos is about the spirit that motivates common ideas and values in people. By appealing to commonly held beliefs and referring to local customs or local linguistic devices then you are showing your reader that you are just like they are and ‘on their level’. This inspires likeability and is one of the SEO copywriter’s most powerful sales tool.

Finally, Pathos involves appealing to your audience’s emotions. You don’t have to tug on the heartstrings every time you write but used responsibly, sparingly and appropriately, you can use this device to make your audience feel more open and identify with the message you want to share with them.

Next time you sit down to write, don’t forget to consider using some of the oldest writing tricks in the book…

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