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How to define your brand tone for written SEO content

The benefit of content for SEO purposes is old news. Regular fresh, authoritative content is known to be smiled on by the algorithm gods and nudges you up search page rankings. It’s a small piece in a much larger and more complex SEO jigsaw that has the added challenge of continually morphing in shape. Within this puzzle piece, though, are finer details which must be in place. These are things like uniqueness, structure and tone. 

As a business or organisation, your tone is incredibly important, and not just for SEO. Written tone is a key part of your brand identity, and has the power to build trust, convert sales, and generate leads. So what does it take to define your brand tone?

Who is speaking?

OK, obviously the answer to this is your organisation. But without taking the time to identify the drivers and messages that underpin your organisation, a name alone is pretty meaningless. Identifying these things are what infuses an organisation with personality and are the building blocks of branding. How, then, do you use tone to elevate your organisation’s brand power?

Purpose – This refers to what your organisation is built to do. Try to refine the reason for your product or service into one line. 

Vision – This is more conceptual and is concerned with what you want to be. Think about how you want to make your clients or customers feel: fulfilled, safe, satisfied, energised?

Mission – Which actions within your organisation’s product or service achieve your purpose?

Values – These are the priorities that you have in place when you work. It might be clarity of communication, or integrity of product design for example. They’re what sets you apart from your competition.

Character – Define the specific traits which you prioritise in the way you work. These might include being industry aware, being dynamic, or being approachable. 

Who is reading?

It’s not all about you, sorry. Your tone of voice should be formed and refined with your target audience in mind. While your brand may strive to be an authority on your industry, if your target clients are creatives you’ll need to speak in a language that they will respond to. Which means mellowing the instructional parts of tone and elevating the conversational.

Target audience

It can help to build an actual persona to represent your target audience. They would be a typical personality and demographic who would use your product or service. You can even give them a name! As part of this process, identify this person’s challenges and motivations for connecting with your business. By doing this, you can tailor the tone of your content to address pain points that your target audience might experience. This will ultimately help your content to find the right people. 

The algorithm

Of course, our advice is always to write for humans first and foremost. However, no one can ignore the fact that the algorithm is there. And it’s silently judging and ranking your content! So to a certain extent, your tone has to consider the algorithm’s whims and preferences. Simple things like using an active voice, short sentences, and directional structures are helpful here. 


Who might share your content? While there are limited products that are designed for the “like and subscribe” trope of influencer, there are many more ways to tap into this form. Think about your business peers who might support your content on platforms like LinkedIn, for example.

Content with a purpose

SEO content exists in many different forms with many different nuances. The overall purpose of your content may well be to support your SEO, but this covers a myriad of bases. Be pin point accurate about the aim of each piece of content, and it’ll help to make your writing more authentic, effective, and readable. There are some key techniques involving tone to remember here.

Dwell time

The amount of time that users spend on your website matters. The longer people spend consuming your content, the better, so your tone must be engaging and readable. Ask questions and use narrative, storytelling styles to naturally increase interest. Include links to other, related content on your website to keep users there for even longer. 

Building trust

From an SEO perspective, your tone should enable clarity of information, and avoid drowning it in too much excess. Clear, directional subheadings are really useful for this, as they guide your users through content to find the information that they need. 

Business generation

We’re all pretty clued up on sales speak nowadays. So be wary of taking a tone that’s too heavily “hard sell”. Excessive repetition of a sales message lacks personality and alienates readers. It may feel counter intuitive, but content that offers genuine support is likely to generate more business in the long run.

Mixed messages

You can vary the tone of your content within your brand parameters. Depending on the subject matter and form (social media, blog, news item), you might emphasise or moderate different aspects of your brand voice. Instagram is a more informal place than your business blog, for example. While there should be common factors, embracing variety makes your overall brand voice more human.

Language features

You’ll need to look at some basic foundations of the way that your written language is constructed. If you’ve worked out where you’re coming from and who you’re talking to, these things should be pretty straightforward.

Formality – It can be hard to work out how formal your brand tone should be as it’s a fine line to tread. Remember that formality does not always equal authority. More informal narratives can be both instructive and engaging, but just be wary of swinging too far the other way. You can easily reduce formality of tone by using the second person, simple language choices, and contractions. 

Humour – It’s always tricky to get this right, since humour is so subjective. However once you’re clear about your target audience you can use common frames of reference to pitch it more accurately. Humorous notes are an engaging way to add depth to your content narrative, but use it sparingly!

Jargon – How specialist is your target audience? When jargon is appropriate, it’s important to clarify meaning elsewhere so that your tone doesn’t slip into the imperious. Similarly, acronyms should be fully explained the first time they are used. It’s important not to assume that every reader already has layers of knowledge.

Defining the right brand tone for your SEO content takes thought and time. But you will reap the benefits of putting in the early work, since your tone guidelines will make producing the content easier. And if you need quick access to your perfect brand tone, contact us at Leapfrog for blog content services.

Becky Hinshelwood
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