Choosing key words… with Peter and Jane

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 10th, 2013 at 11:15 AM

keyword_imgAh. Information.  Sometimes it comes from the unlikeliest of places. Like this gem about Ladybird books from, ahem, the BBC TV show, Flog It!

Its groan out loud, pun-strewn format is the last place I’d imagine discovering interesting wordy things. But in an old episode re-shown recently, presenter Paul Martin visited the Ladybird HQ in Loughborough and revealed this fascinating fact about one of its famous series of books.

Ladybird launched its key words reading scheme in 1964 following research by headmaster, William Murray and his colleague, J McNally who discovered that just 12 words make up 25% of all the words we speak. (I must admit I find that rather low.)

The scheme, better known as the Peter and Jane books, is still in print today and has sold over 95 million copies.

Interesting stuff and it set up a chain of thought (powerful stuff that Flog It!).

Up until recently, when I thought of keywords it was in the context of SEO – using researched lists of phrases to optimise the copy I write for clients’ websites.

It was a bit of a revelation to hear the term had been used as long ago as the 60s and it made me think about a Copyblogger e-book I’ve just read – ‘Keyword Research – a real world guide’.

In the intro, the author, Brian Clark, asks us to imagine a world without search engines and asks, “would keyword research still be valuable?”

Of course the answer is “yes” because as he goes on to say, “keyword research is market research. It tells you what people are interested in.”

And as well as giving you an idea of how many people are interested in your subject, it reveals the language they use which should help you to communicate with them more easily through your website, blog, and printed marketing material.

Clark goes on to say:

“At the deepest level, keyword optimisation has nothing to do with SEO. It’s about knowing your audience so well that you learn which words will grab their attention, earn their trust, and persuade them to buy your products or services.”

As he says elsewhere in the book, “Words aren’t powerful. The right words are.”  Which is pretty much what Ladybird knew and maximised way back in the sixties.




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Hello. I'm Elaine, I'm a copywriter and this is my blog.

It's mostly about words and writing - things that inspire me, entertain me, and make me smile. Sometimes it's about things that horrify me so much I want to scream and shout!

I hope you enjoy it and find it useful. And speaking of useful - scroll down and take a look at the Oxford Dictionaries tool.

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