Working in the SEO industry for over 10 years, I have seen all possible copy mistakes. I have encountered a wide variety of terrible articles, lifeless blog posts and websites’ stale content. Some time ago I wrote an article on the 7 biggest copywriting mistakes but there are plenty more. I would, therefore, like to share Part II of our Handbook on Writing SEO Friendly Articles with you.
It is not difficult to make staggering copywriting mistakes, but you can avoid them with our help. Let’s see how!
Targeting the wrong people is one of the most common mistakes. Before you start writing, think of your audience, who they are, what they need. Research your audience, see what they can benefit from regarding your content. If you are offering SEO services, you should target mostly online business owners. If you are a blogger who specializes in floral DIY crafts, you should be writing mostly for DIY fans. You should use a different language depending on who reads your content. Do not forget that your copywriting should convince your target audience to engage.
Above all, remember that you are not writing anything for yourself but for your users. Otherwise, any efforts of copywriting an SEO friendly articles will prove meaningless.
I would love to not have to mention this but unfortunately, I cannot. Plagiarism still takes place in our lives and happens more often than we think. As Google states, plagiarism is “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own”. But it is not that simple. Plagiarism happens not only while you copy-paste someone’s work but also when you fail to cite sources or rephrase ideas properly. This is deadly no matter what the reason behind it is – you are tired, busy, stressed or just missed the source. This still affects your content in a bad way because Google does not care why or how you plagiarized something. Therefore, the search engine will simply de-rank the content if it stumbles upon a copied piece. That is why it is crucial to keep a close eye on plagiarism, check the sources and citations thoroughly.
This is another common mistake among copywriters that occurs way too often. Typos, misused words (for example: “there” instead of “their”, “farther” and ”further”, “affect” and “effect”), and confusing writing happen a lot. It does not matter how precise and careful you are, these mistakes are inevitable. Grammar checker software is not always able to help and catch all of the mistakes. This is why it is really important to re-read your content before publishing. Even better, if you can, give it to someone else to proofread the text. The second pair of eyes can provide additional suggestions and corrections. This is a great solution to prevent your content from being mediocre, confusing and incomprehensible. While this tip seems simple, it can really help your text to stand out.
When you write copy, it should sound as if you were talking face-to-face with your reader. Meaning that your copy should reflect the way you talk. Don’t use your high-school ‘term paper’ tone because that’s downright boring and confusing. Such an academic writing mindset is hindering when it comes to copywriting. If you’re finding it too hard to write naturally, get yourself speech-to-text software. That should help you write sales pages that sound like they are coming out of someone’s mouth.
This is one of the most powerful words and every copywriter should know that. Unfortunately, most of them do not use it enough. “You” can transform your conversion rates faster than you think. Why? Because it indicates your reader, your potential client or follower. It means that you, the author, care about your audience and try to look at the subject from their perspective. It is crucial because readers do not care about the authors, the copywriters. You create content for your users and they are important, so address them directly and relate everything to your readers. All in all, it is all about them.
“Stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.” as Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard University claimed and I totally agree with him. Storytelling is one of the strongest methods to engage users with your copy. Unfortunately, even though storytelling is an old trend that continues to come back, copywriters do not use it enough. Do not make this mistake and tell a story within your text, no matter whether it is a blog post, an article or a press release. Use the power of storytelling to evoke feelings from your readers. They make us understand more if the subject is more complex. Moreover, stories help users sympathize with the problem or an issue and make them relate to it. They help to implant ideas into readers’ heads in a more convincing and natural way. By incorporating stories into your texts you make them more compelling and interesting. Try it for yourself!
In 1978, 3 psychologists: Ellen Langer of Harvard University, along with Arthur Blank and Benzion Chanowitz of the City University of New York ran an interesting experiment. They wanted to find out how people respond to language. They approached people using a photocopying machine and then measured the effectiveness of various ways of asking if they could cut in the line to copy their own pages. When they didn’t give a reason why, only 60% said they could cut in the line. If they stated why they wanted to cut in the line, the conversion rate skyrocketed to over 90%. While summarizing this research in Harvard Magazine, Cara Feinberg stated that any reason behind the request contributed to a difference:
“The reasons given, if any, ranged from the sensible to the senseless: for instance, ‘May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?’ versus ‘May I use the Xerox machine because I want to make copies?’ They found that subjects overall were more amenable when given a reason, but were equally compliant regardless of whether the reason was real or ridiculous. Their behavior, she showed, was mindless: people responded more to the familiar framework of a request than to the content of the actual question. (But there were limits to this phenomenon, Langer says: ‘…because an elephant is after me’ didn’t cut it.)”
|Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?||60%|
|Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?||94%|
|Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?||93%|
However, the results were different when the favor was bigger. When the researchers asked to cut in the line with 20 copies to make, the conversion rate dropped significantly. In addition, a weaker reason became less effective.
|Excuse me. I have 20 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?||24%|
|Excuse me. I have 20 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?||42%|
|Excuse me. I have 20 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?||24%|
So, while copywriting and making a statement, explain why thoroughly and the impact of your content will increase. However, do not give fake reasons to your audience and do not ask them too much.
This applies mostly to content created specifically for your website or blog but it is crucial from the SEO point of view. You cannot neglect a meta description of your blog post. It is crucial to optimize it well by adding your main keyword or phrase in there. Meta descriptions summarize your content and are under 156 characters. They are shown in Google’s search results and should encourage users to click on them. Consequently, make use of meta descriptions and don’t forget to optimize them while publishing new content on your website!
While creating content for your website copywriters often forget about checking and setting a URL. Don’t repeat that mistake. You should set the link so it includes your keyword, making sure it is not too long. Take out unnecessary words from the permalink like “the” or “to”. Moreover, it is important to set this before publishing your content so changes don’t influence the traffic. If you are updating an old post and need to change the URL, you should set 301 redirect from the original URL to the updated one in order to avoid broken links.
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As you can see above, it is easy to make a lot of mistakes while copywriting. Therefore, this is a challenging job but if you do it right, it can build brand recognition, drive traffic and generate growth of your business. Do not forget that nowadays, appealing quality content is king. Remember about SEO aspects, who your audience is and how they can benefit from your content. Most importantly, create an extraordinary copy without mistakes! Now you know how to avoid them and write SEO friendly articles!