TECHNICAL

December 22, 2021

Sanders Reese

Sanders Reese specializes in cryptocurrency copywriting, as well as technology, IT and SaaS.

Mastering Tech Copywriting Research: How to Get the Most Out of Your Searches

Research gets a bad wrap. Some people see it as the lesser-appreciated cousin of the copywriting family. It’s other aspects of creating engaging content that grabs a reader's attention. Emotionally charged headlines, crisp storytelling, powerful literary devices that make the otherwise mundane into something thoughtful and illuminating; everything starts with the right information — and getting that information requires the right research skills.

Today we’re going to explore the research process, discover some ways to leverage tools you already use to get the most out of your current strategy and help you create the kind of content that keeps your readers on the page. If you’re writing for tech, SaaS, PaaS or any related industry, these are the kinds of skills that can push your content forward. 

Getting the Information You Need

Where do you start when you stare at a blank page? Regardless of your outlining process, research will play a role in these initial stages. The way you approach that research is going to depend on a few factors:

  • Have you written about this topic in the past?
  • Do you already have domain knowledge?
  • How much information can you find with preliminary research?
  • What does the competition have to offer?
  • How do SEO keywords work into your overall research strategy?

These questions can help you hone your process. You don’t want to get stuck in a rut or get in over your head without the right information. Remember that time is money, so the more refined your research, the quicker you can write out the copy and finish the piece.

If you’re completely in the dark on a particular topic, you’ll need to get the basics down first. This is especially true for dense topic areas like SaaS, cybersecurity, cryptocurrency and other tech topics. Without that basic knowledge, you may not be able to fully flesh out more complex ideas, leaving the final piece with information gaps.

Always start broad, then refine your results. Often, basic searches using your SEO keywords are a great way to shift into the ins and outs of an industry or topic. But if you’re not getting any good information, it means your content most likely has a better chance of ranking — making an empty results page a bit more bittersweet than sour.

What’s a Quality Source, Anyway?

Research is much more than digging through the first few pages of Google. Quality content comes from quality sources, and parsing what’s credible and crummy is its own skill. So how do you know that you’re using reliable sources?

  • Always be skeptical — Play defense. Try and find the cracks in the page that could make your shiny new source dead-on-arrival.
  • Make sure your information is up to date — Old information can lead you astray. For tech copywriting research, anything past ten years might as well be on a scroll.
  • Look for signs of quality copywriting — If it’s a great article that is informative, fun and SEO optimized will all the proper linking; chances are, it’s legit. Even so, always double-check and stay vigilant.
  • Transparency — Can you find links to the author’s social media and other contact information? If everything’s anonymous, it could be a red flag.
  • Make sure you use trusted sources — The sites you use should always look professional and offer reliable information. If you can, search for .org or .gov sites.
  • Check for bias — If the author seems to advocate for a certain point of view, the information you’re getting isn’t unbiased. This can lead you down the wrong research path.

Now, these tips aren’t binding and rigid. What you should take away is that finding reliable sources is a matter of critical thinking. It’s a muscle you’ll need to develop. But once you master the craft, spotting gold on a search engine results page (SERP) is effortless.

Different Project Require Different Sources

Copywriting comes in many different forms. Whether you’re writing blogs or copy for a website, research will always be a part of the writing process. But, where you get your inspiration and research from may differ.

Take writing a blog post. For this type of content, it will be beneficial to explore:

  • Similar articles
  • Research papers and essays
  • Whitepapers
  • Technical documentation
  • Press releases

You can probably come up with a few more examples here. The goal is to discover the discussion that is already happening around the topic. You to become part of that discourse, so becoming familiar with as much information as you can is critical.

Conversely, you may need to sculpt the perfect website copy. In this situation, try and find:

  • Competitor analysis
  • Target audience research
  • Testimonials and case studies
  • Relevant marketing materials
  • Interviews (from employees and customers)

Depending on the goal of the content, you could dip into the other pool of resources. Don’t let these suggestions become rules. The last thing you want is to limit yourself from valuable information. Use everything at your disposal to jump into a topic, become acquainted with what’s happening in the industry and position yourself to be a part of the overall conversation.

Leveraging Search Operators

Google is an insanely powerful tool. Many people never scrape past the initial surface of a search. Learning the ins and outs of the search engine can not only get you the specific sources you need to get started but can also save you time when you’re developing content and copy. So, how do you tame the wild beast that is the SERP? Well, you’ll need to master some search operators. 

Search operators are strings of special characters and commands that help maximize plain text searches. They are incredibly useful during research but can also be quite handy with SEO audits.

Here are some common search operators that you can use to fine-tune your searches:

  • “ “ — Put any phrase in quotes, and Google will search for the exact match.
  • Example: “Frederick Douglas”
  • OR — The default search reverts to the logical AND between terms. Using OR, all caps, will switch the logical operator and give you both results.
  • Example: Frederick Douglas OR Abraham Lincoln
  • () — Use parentheses to group operators and control the order that they execute.
  • Example: (Frederick Douglas OR Abraham Lincoln) Civil War
  • - — The minus (-) will exclude any term or other operator. Just make sure it’s in front.
  • Example: Lincoln - pennies
  • #..# — Using (..) between integers will produce results that match that range of numbers.
  • Example: Lincoln 1809…1839
  • intitle: — Search only the titles of pages for a word or phrase.
  • Example: intitle: “Lincoln and Douglas”
  • intext: — Use this operator to search within a page’s text.
  • Example: intext: “Lincoln and Douglas’
  • filetype: — Match only specific file types like PDF, DOC, PPT and TXT.
  • Example: “Frederick Douglas” filetype:pdf
  • @ and # — Put these in front of phrases to search social media and specific hashtags.
  • Example: #lincoln
  • site: — Use site: in front of a site or domain.
  • Example: site: .gov.

You can do a lot with search operators, and frankly, we’re only scratching the surface in this article. To get the most out of your searches, you’ll want to play around with stringing operators together and experiment with what works.

Talk to the Experts

If you’re taking a deep dive into a particularly dense topic, it’s always a good idea to get a hold of a subject matter expert (SME). While we’ve learned the tricks to get the most out of Google, you’ll often hit a wall in your research.

The truth is that most of what you see on the front page is basic information. Now, that’s not always the case. Still, if you see a piece of content ranking, it’s probably SEO optimized — meaning it’s easy to read and contains a digestible amount of information.

To get the details you need, contacting an expert in the field is a must. If you’re planning out your content, it's probably part of the initial stages of the process. Sitting down and doing an SME interview can give you a glimpse into the industry and get those creative juices flowing. Some topics will always need an expert’s perspective, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the particular domain.

With tech, SaaS and other fields like blockchain, it’s almost impossible to keep up with the evolving technology. Having an SME walk you through what’s happening is key to creating the kind of content that’s unique, relevant and engaging. If you want to learn the how-to’s for the perfect SME interview, we’ve got you covered.

Looking to Up Your Content and Copy?

Research, especially tech copywriting research, shouldn’t become a whole ordeal. Crafting a streamlined process for research can up the quality of your work and save you time. If your team is searching for quality content but doesn’t have the resources to get there, Hire a Writer can help.

Our team of expert wordsmiths is all too familiar with the art of research and the craft of copy. If you want to up your content game and get more traffic, make sure to contact us today.

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