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10 SEO Copywriting Myths, Mistakes and Conversion-Sucking Monsters

May 2, 2018

Is your Web copy only so-so?

Maybe your pages aren't positioning in Google and Bing, and you're not sure what you're doing wrong. Or prospects are finding your site, but they're not taking action.

Either way, you know something is wrong. You just may not know what it is.

If your SEO copy isn't making you money, it could be that your writing has fallen prey to one or more of the 10 most common SEO copywriting myths, mistakes and conversion-sucking monsters. Here are the typical copywriting boo-boos I see:

Writing to a certain keyword density percentage.

My all-time, top, #1 myth! Once upon a time, SEO experts knew that a 5.5% keyword density would gain a top spot in Alta Vista. Guess what – it's not 1999 anymore. Yes, include your keyphrases on the page. But don't write for a mythical keyphrase density that will mess up your copy.

Forgetting to research keyphrases (or ignoring keyphrase research altogether.)

Have you ever written the content and thought, "I'll add the keyphrases later. Let's just upload this page first"? Oops! Keyphrase research is a can't-skip step and should be done before you start writing. Great tools like WordStream's Keyword Research Suite makes it easy.

Not writing for your target audience.

To paraphrase an old song, "Do you know who you're writing to?" Think about your perfect customer and what makes them tick. Write in a "voice" that they'll appreciate and understand. It's a sure way to engage your reader and get them excited about reading more. 

No benefit statements.

This is the biggest conversion-sucking monster of all. You have to give people a reason to buy from you – and that means tying your content into "what's in it for your reader." If "writing to sell" is new to you, read books by the old-school copywriting masters like Bob Bly. After all, as Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt said, "People don't want to buy quarter-inch drills. They want quarter-inch holes."

Creating poor titles.

Your titles are incredibly important from an SEO aspect, true. And yes, it's important to include the right keyphrases the right away. At the same time, titles also act as headlines on the search engine results page – so they need to be "clickable" and compelling. In the fast-scan world of Google Instant, it pays to craft an SEO title that stands out and grabs the click. It takes a little more time to write a "clickable" title, but it's worth it.

Overwhelming the reader with too much.

Some folks like to "put it all out there" and write 1,000-word blog posts, product pages and FAQ pages. That's OK if your readers are reading the copy and taking action. It's not OK if they're bouncing out the second they hit the page. Google's Website Optimizer is a great way to test different copy lengths to see what works better.

Underwhelming the reader with too little.

I've worked with clients who said "I don't want to provide much information on the site. I want people to call for more information." The challenge is, people won't call if you don't give them a reason. With your competition just a "back" button away, isn't it a better idea to develop compelling copy that promotes your expertise?

Rampant linking and bolding.

Ahhh – talk about visual overwhelm! Some people bold and hyperlink every keyword they can. They may think it's a smart SEO trick, but it's probably not helping (and the format is most likely freaking out your readers.) Dial back the SEO and focus on making the page better for your readers. 

Not asking for the sale.  

Too many e-commerce sites create fantastic product copy, but then they forget one crucial component – asking for the sale! If you want people to download your white paper, contact you, or buy something, make it clear in the copy – and make it easy to do. 

Forgetting to check analytics.

Is your content working? Are you sure? Review your analytics and see what you learn (for instance, I learned that "About SuccessWorks" is my third most popular page.) Sometimes, it's also helpful to have a second set of eyes checking out your analytics as well. Just a little bit of research can uncover some huge money-making opportunities.

Heather Lloyd-Martin

by Heather Lloyd-Martin, the CEO of SuccessWorks SEO Copywriting. Fueled by soy lattes, Heather writes SEO copy, develops content strategies and trains in-house copywriters in SEO copywriting and social media writing. She also offers the only online SEO Copywriting Certificate course designed to help freelance copywriters, business owners and in-house marketers learn SEO copywriting best practices.