There’s no substitute for great copy. The right words in the right context will move your audience to action far more often than any other incentive. As a blogger, trust and credibility are conveyed by the value you provide through the written word.
For that reason alone, it’s imperative to avoid these following five common copywriting mistakes.
1. Focusing on SEO instead of high-quality content
This mistake used to be more prevalent in the pre-Panda and pre-Penguin days. It actually wasn’t too much of a problem, because search engines didn’t penalize this type of writing as harshly as they currently do.
Nowadays, you must focus on writing for people first. Though there’s no specific rule, you should avoid letting your keyword density exceed 1 percent on most types of content. Keep your keyword density from getting too high even on content that people won’t be landing on as frequently, and use keywords only where they seamlessly integrate into your content.
2. Long blocks of text
You know Web readers want their information fast, so make your posts easy to consume—that is, easy to scan. “Long” is a subjective term, but generally keep your paragraphs to less than seven MS Word lines long, and ideally much less. Make sure you also:
- Avoid overly technical language unless you’re writing specifically for an audience that will understand the terminology.
- Use a maximum of four paragraphs under each subhead.
- Make sentences less than 1.5 MS Word lines long.
- Keep subheads about a half a MS Word line long, and fill them with the benefits of reading your content.
3. Not focusing on the reader
Make good use of the second person in your content (“you/your” as opposed to “I/me” or “they/their”), as that makes it most engaging. If you use “I” too much, people think you’re self-absorbed and feel disconnected. If you change it to third person and use forms of “they” too much, your content reads like a report.
This rule actually holds true for most types of communication. CEOs and business professionals are increasingly developing a preference for succinct, casual language, because it’s easy to understand in today’s rapid-pace business environment.
4. Using qualifiers
This was a big one for me. For almost any type of copy, using “should” or “must” sounds preachy and forceful. On the opposite end of the spectrum, avoid using qualifiers like “might,” “can” and “could.”
I picked up this habit because much of my early writing was in the legal industry, where you often have to use that type of language. Unless legally obligated to use qualifiers for a certain industry, avoid using them.
People don’t want to know you have a good chance of helping them, they want to know your product or service does help them.
5. Forgetting about the meta description
The second-most important piece of any search result, after the title/headline, is the meta description. Yes, you’re reading this right, the meta description.
Once the title captures someone’s initial interest, the meta description plays a significant role in driving that person to click through to your content.
Google bolds the keyword and closely related terms in its search results, so make sure the primary keyword appears in the meta description to maximize click-throughs. Also, use a call-to-action statement in your meta description to make people salivate about reading further.
Quite simply, stellar content with an average title and meta description receives fewer links and click-throughs than average content with an eye-popping title and meta description.
Read more SEO copywriting, business blogging, and content marketing tips at Dan’s SEO Copywriting blog.