We all fancy ourselves as the next Sylvia Plath or Edgar Allen Poe, which can make it difficult to critique your own writing – nobody wants to step down from the internet soapbox and notice their copywriting skills aren’t actually quite as good as they thought.
It is, however, an important thing to do. Effective copy can make or break your conversion rates, so it’s vital to swallow your pride, and take a ruthless look.
1. Speaking to yourself and not your consumer
When writing about your product or service, it can be easy to slip into writing for yourself. The likelihood is, your customer is not the same person you are. Selling to yourself may sound appealing – you know what you like and what you want to read – but keep your audience personas in mind. They may be turned off by the same content that inspires excitement in you.
2. Using too much jargon
Your customer isn’t an expert on what you do, otherwise they would be a competitor and not a customer. Filling your content with long, industry-specific words can alienate the average customer. Try to write your consumer landing pages in layman’s terms, and leave the more technical talk for a subpage – for more complex information, the reader can click through.
3. Not optimizing headlines/titles for search engines
Start with a working title, liable to change. You never know precisely what track your content is going to take, so a flexible title whilst you’re still writing is key. Once you’ve completed your text, read through, and pick out the key themes.
Your title should inform a user what the text is going to tell them, be interesting enough to make the reader want to click through, and use the keywords that best describe your content. This is a key part of search engine optimisation (SEO), as the title is likely to be the link a user clicks on to get to you. Don’t waste your first impression.
4. Copying content from elsewhere (plagiarising)
Google knows. Don’t do it.
5. Using unnecessary words
Brevity is key. Avoid words like ‘very’ – instead of being ‘very creative’, you’re ‘innovative’. For more ideas, see this infographic
6. Poor spelling and grammar
There are a plethora of automatic spelling and grammar checkers available for free online, so there’s really no excuse for typos and inaccurate punctuation. One tool we use is Grammarly – the basic version is completely free and adds on to Chrome with ease. It’s always useful to have an extra pair of eyes on your work – although it’s still vital to reread all your work at least once, or even get someone else to proof it if possible.
7. Using too many clichés
Clichés can be useful. When you’re trying to describe something, appealing to the reader with a familiar expression can be tempting, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with it. However, if you use too many, your reader will start to wonder if you know what you’re actually talking about. Additionally, it’s annoying.
8. Not using subheadings
When users find your article or page in a search engine results page (SERP), it’s almost a given that they were looking for an answer to a specific question. Subheadings allow a user to scan the text, and find the part most relevant to their needs.
If they’re just presented with a wall of text, and they want an answer fast, they won’t bother reading the whole thing to find out if it will help them. Subheadings also help with the next point.
9. Not utilising white space
Similar to the above point, white space on your page makes the information easier to digest and navigate.
If you need assistance writing copy for your website, contact Catfish Web Design at [email protected]
Article by Eden Jefford, Catfish Web Design