Avoid These Web Copy Worst Offenders to Win Customers with Words

The language-processing center is one of the most developed parts of the adult brain. It’s a highly advanced system that allows us to decipher meaning from pure silence. With little effort, black and white symbols take on all kinds of meaning.

Whether you’re trying to scare the pants off someone a la Stephen King, bring someone to tears with sentiment, or simply sell your services, words work! That is if you use them well.
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Here’s what not to do in your web copy.

  1. Prioritize your keywords over your customers. If you’re too focused on creating a keyword driven content calendar or devoting too much space to talking about yourself, it’s time to shift focus. Remember that your audience is more interested in what you can do for them rather than the keyword(s) that brought them to your site. Sure, you absolutely need to sprinkle in some specific turns of phrase that will ping the search engines. But it’s more important to use your words to show and tell customers how you’ll bring value to their lives. Do so in a storied way that grabs their attention. A keyword or two may have gotten them there, but it’s the rest of your words that will make the sell.
  2. Present a problem in an abstract way. All good stories need a little bit of tension. It adds interest and keeps readers engaged. Use the sections of your website to create mini-vignettes that bring your potential customer’s problem into focus. The quicker you do so, the more likely you are to hold their fragile and limited attention. The more crystalline your mission to address their pain points, the more likely you are to move them down the sales funnel.
  3. Forget to push readers to take action. In life, and good writing, action is almost everything. Pretty words count for a lot, but they alone aren’t enough to close the deal. For that, you need to be explicit about what you want your reader to do next. Simple instructions like ‘click here’ are banal and diluted from overuse. Instead, try turning your CTAs (calls to action) into problem-solving hybrids like “start getting more web traffic” or “increase your Google ranking.” Make an action item out of the pillars that matter the most to your potential customers.
  4. Hit them with a wall of words. Precise and concise is the name of the game here, folks. You may have a compelling backstory, but save it for your About Us page. When they first land on your website, you want to quickly move them through your most important offerings and on to the commitment portion of the evening. Create a labyrinth with your language, and you’ll lose them forever.
  5. Make mindless headlines and hyperlinks. For the text you do have, be sure to break it up with thoughtful headlines that are at once compelling and descriptive. That way if they only skim your text, which, let’s face it, is highly likely, they’ll at least get the main takeaways out the gate. It’s ok to pepper some hyperlinks into the copy, too. But just like salt, too much or too little is a problem. Over link and the search engines that get grumpy. It implies that your content is unoriginal. Too few, and you might not be able to back up your words with the right level of authority.
  6. Fail to let others speak. Few of us are really gifted at talking about ourselves. In fact, businesses do much better when they let at least a few other authors toot their horns in the form of compelling testimonials. The more past success you can show, the more future success you’re likely to have.

Still not sure how to use your words wisely? Let us do the talking for you! Our expert content marketers know how to write for both human and electronic readers to help you stand out.