A lot of small business owners want to try their hand at writing copy because it feels more authentic and there are fewer expenses. The unfortunate part is that they are far more prone to make copywriting mistakes. In this article, I want to cover the most significant mistakes that will cost you the most. Most time to fix, most cost to correct, and/or most damage to your search engine optimization. So here’s a list of what not to do, and what you should be doing instead. These are in no particular order.
Do NOT Forget Your Research
This article is a great example of this. I’m not citing a bunch of stats and this writing is all of my opinions alone. However, I did do research on the copywriting mistakes that I was seeing. I took note of my own mistakes, the mistakes of others, and I searched online for what people had to say about this topic. Even if most of what you’re writing is from your own mind you still at least need to research your audience. What you can DO is always ask questions. Pay attention to patterns. Keep track of what you notice. Make every attempt to learn as much as possible and understand your readers.
Do NOT Write a Novel
This isn’t a book that will be read in print. It is not a college paper in MLA or APA format. It’s on the web, therefore there are rules. It needs to be easy to read, ideally having a good Flesch Readability Score. Writing ‘for the web’ is simply about keeping things catered to low attention spans and lower reading level capacities. What you can DO is follow the Flesch score of your copy. Try to aim for the right readability scores and page size (number of words) for your audience. Keep your copy simple.
Do NOT Stuff Keywords
It’s bad for your SEO score. Google will punish you and other search engines will as well. This makes your content sounds like a robot. It’s boring, inauthentic, and too hard to read. It doesn’t make sense when you’re reading phrases that are out of place too much. What you can DO is keep the saturation levels of your keywords at the recommended percentage. Engage with your audience and make sure it sounds like a human is not only writing, but writing with emotion. Even if you aren’t using Yoast, this guide to doing your own SEO will contain information in it on what SEO data means and how many keywords you should have in your content.
Do NOT Repeat Content Patterns
Sure, I sign off on most blogs with the same Star Wars quote. It’s a signature. That’s different than always using the same adjectives or descriptions. I don’t have a canned copy that is the same for all realtors, as an example. And if I were to write multiple pages for a realtor, I wouldn’t use the same intro or same description for each listing or piece of material. What you can DO is keep your copy unique. Copywriting mistakes are easy to make because it’s part of the learning process. It seems reasonable that one could copy/paste content and change only a few words but for a lot of content, this isn’t a good thing. If you’re too predictable, boring, or don’t connect with the audience for that page you’re going to miss out.
Do NOT Make it ALL About You All the Time
You need balance in your copy. At most, I recommend no more than an 80% ratio of ‘you’ in your content. This includes links to other websites. There’s tons of information to be found. It’s OK to suggest someone else’s blog if it’s a good read or educational. You should be linking to 3rd party sources to cite information. It is not bad for you to give the reader other materials and sources. Unless that content makes a much better impression. What you can DO is leverage your own contacts if you are unsure how to approach this. Use their content and co-op market with them until you get comfortable with the idea of including others in your pieces.
Do NOT Skip Proofreading
If you are a one-person show, make sure you have a plan to go back and review your copy at a later date. I like to wait a couple of days and reread everything because I won’t catch it on the first review. The same set of eyes can make this harder so space out the times you are reviewing content. What you can DO is consider a proofreader if it makes sense for your budget. You can also use tools like Grammarly to help you. I have caught mistakes that I have made and others have made in small doses. Just make sure these aren’t big major issues that change how your readers see you.
What copywriting mistakes have you made, or noticed that I didn’t cover here? What input do you have for me and the readers? I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn where I post a lot of content like this. If you have a page I can learn from, please send me your link to follow and connect with you.