I just got back from the NAMS conference in Atlanta, GA where I held a live copywriting review session. Attendees submitted their sales copy for live critique before the group. It was very enlightening, not only for them, but also for me. As I went through the 10 or so web pages, I began to notice a trend.
Here are 5 critical copywriting mistakes I found on almost every one of the pages. If you’re making these mistakes in your website and SEO copywriting, make a point to correct them ASAP.
Mistake #1 – Search-Engine-Focused Title Tag
The SEO copywriting process starts with your page title. Almost every title tag I looked at was constructed using only keywords. Keep this in mind… if keywords are the only things in your title tag, you’re only accomplishing half of what you think you are. Keywords are great for the search engines, but if all you list in your title tag is keywords, you aren’t differentiating yourself from the other web pages that show up in the search results.
You should give your prospects a reason to click to your page instead of everyone else’s page. Even if you insert two or three enticing words in the tag along with the keyphrases you’ll be letting your potential visitors know why they should click to your site instead of your competition. That’s a crucial first step in communicating with your prospects and getting more traffic.
Mistake #2 – No Keyphrases Strategically Placed in Copy
Other than the title tag, many of the sites I reviewed didn’t include any keyphrases within the copy at all. The mistaken belief was that if they put the keywords in their title tags, the page was optimized. Not so.
There are strategic places you’ll want to insert keywords throughout your web page in order to create good SEO copywriting flow. This will create a funnel that directs prospective customers from your search engine listing on Google, Bing or other engines all the way to your “buy now” button.
Mistake #3 – Making Assumptions about Copy Style
Practically every page was constructed using a sales letter format (or something similar). While all of these were information products or some other digital service, the assumption that a sales letter had to be used was off base. There are dozens of different styles of copywriting. No one had tested shorter copy or other formats of copy on their pages.
For instance, the #1 seller of books in the U.S. (perhaps globally) is Amazon.com. Yet none of the people selling books or ebooks created pages that followed Amazon’s format. Don’t assume your site visitors respond better to one style of copy over another unless you test first.
Mistake #4 – Using “I” More than “You”
Everybody pretty much knows logically that it’s all about the customer: it’s not all about you. But when some product owners put on their copywriter hats, all that logic seems to fly out the window. Watch what you write.
Go back and read your copy out loud. How often are you saying “I” or “me” or “we” or “us?” Is it way more frequently than you say “you” or “your?” If so, shift the focus of the sentences from you to the customer.
Mistake #5 – Clunky Sentences
I found myself making this suggestion quite a bit: Clean up your sentences. Many of them were extremely long and full of words that didn’t have to be there. That made the copy difficult to read. You don’t want your visitors to have to stop and think about what you’re trying to say. You want them to be able to breeze right through the copy without hitting any speed bumps.
Because the recommendation to write conversationally is so popular online, people have begun to write *exactly* like they think or speak. You don’t need to be that conversational
Go back through your copy (or have someone else do it) and take out every word that does not have to be there. The words “that” and “had” are common culprits that bulk up sentences unnecessarily.
For instance, “She had gone to the store for groceries” could quickly be shortened to “She went to the store for groceries.” The statement “She thought that she was getting a cold” would turn into “She thought she was getting a cold.
Read back through your web copy and see if you’re guilty of these mistakes. If you are, make time in your schedule to correct them fast. You could be rewarded with more traffic and higher conversion rates.
(c) 2012 Karon Thackton, All Rights Reserved