In pursuit of higher and higher ranks in search results, it’s recognition by crawlers and not by a real audience that matters most. Verbal paradoxes are spreading all over the Internet and they don’t help their inventors, to their disbelief, to get ranked higher. That’s the topic of this article – the most frequent mistakes in SEO copywriting.
It’s been written a lot about how to get started in copywriting. There’s plenty of articles and posts online about defining keywords, describing differences between SEO and SEM or even tips on where to look for first jobs. And it’s working, to be honest. More and more people try their luck in the world of SEO copywriting – they use free guides, take online crash courses, attend local trainings organized by experts. On one hand, it’s beneficial because competitiveness drives the market; the thought that a client may at any time choose someone else to work with fosters development and greater involvement in work. On the other hand, a swarm of young practitioners of SEO copywriting who make mistakes and aren’t adept yet at this craft adversely affects the market, abusing possible business partners’ trust and making them less interested in investing in SEO.
Therefore, instead of recapping how to get started with SEO, I’m going to list things you should avoid in SEO writing. Below are a few most common mistakes which can define a copywriter and pigeonhole him or her as an amateur or a professional.
1. Articles that are useless to everyone
The biggest and most common mistake made by copywriters is creating useless content tailored to the way web crawlers work. Putting 3 keywords in a single sentence or pairing words with high search potential in an unnatural manner (e.g. restaurant Venice) only seem to be a winning strategy. It’s still content that rules. A well-optimized website which doesn’t have much to offer its user will be quickly abandoned. Perhaps its owner can generate pretty great traffic on it, but conversions will be very low. All content posted online should have real value, improving reader’s knowledge.
2. Bad titles
Titles ought to be clickable, it’s true, but never at the expense of client’s trust. What attracts your audience is valuable and useful content, not carefully designed click-baits. Giving a title, remember that it shouldn’t exceed 70 characters because if it does, its visibility in the search engine will be affected.
The language of benefits underlies SEO efforts these days. There’s virtually no social trust in superlatives which aren’t backed up by any concrete evidence. People stopped believing in such slogans as “the best in the market”, “a family business” or “the best quality”. In the 21st century, you need to show you’re the best, not talk about being the best. You have to show your awards and recommendations instead of writing about the best quality. Don’t write about being a family business, prove it by posting old photographs and specific dates.
4. Language unadjusted to the audience
The necessity to assure the client of how exceptional a given product or service is has led to a situation where copywriters try to outdo each other, using complicated words to describe simple things. They want to surprise their audiences with innovative solutions and technological advancement. Meanwhile, an average Joe isn’t interested in big words at all, but rather in seeing the practical aspects of his investment. Yet another problem is crossing the boundaries between providing information directly to a client and thus building trust with them, and an unprofessional slang used among friends.
5. Too short articles
There’re few topics in the world that could be covered in a single paragraph. I know it, you know it and search engine algorithms know it, since they reward well-organized extensive content. Linguistically correct text rich in keywords is not enough for it to be deemed useful and of value. At the same time, it’s worth remembering about continuously shrinking free time, as statistics suggest – too long articles that can’t be read in a single sitting, even when informative, may be appreciated by crawlers, but not by readers.
6. Following an SEO strategy that doesn’t take into consideration company’s philosophy
Every skilful copywriter will begin with drawing up an action plan. It’s important to take into account objectives of the company, its philosophy and its target audience. Various guides written in teenage slang yet tackling the activity of people who are 60 years old or older may seem interesting, but are they effective?
7. Inadequate or too general keywords
At first glance, combining e.g. carrots and vegetables is logical. However, if a seller and distributor of carrots is positioned for the keyword “vegetables”, it’ll turn out that a majority of visitors to that seller’s website won’t find what they’re looking for. Indeed, carrots are vegetables, but they’re not the only ones. In this case, it would be far better to focus on a very specific clientele and to invest in such keywords as (depending on products offered): ordinary carrot, feed carrot, black carrot, bio carrot or pesticide-free carrot. Senuto’s keyword database can help you select the right keywords for your business.
8. Artificial keywords
People used to think that the best way to get web crawlers’ attention is to use keywords which are not only grammatically unchanged but also standing out visually. What’s more, it’s often the case that such words and phrases are squeezed into the text in an artificial manner, disrespecting the language rules. Today it’s obvious that SEO done well is virtually invisible and involves not only choosing and using a given slogan but also fitting it in the text in a natural way. For instance, the phrase “good restaurant Venice” may be situated in a sentence like that: “A good restaurant in Venice is situated at…”
9. Overusing keywords
“More” doesn’t always mean “better”. Experience shows that web crawlers negatively perceive websites collecting as many keywords as possible; they consider them to be unnatural attempts at getting a website ranked higher.
10. Neglecting the visual aspects of text
Nowadays, all consumption starts with a glance. Column-like text not divided into paragraphs resembles unappetizing pulp splashed on a dirty plate – people will look away from both these things. In creating content for SEO purposes, it’s equally crucial to use keywords and content in a careful and thought-through manner, tailored to the target audience, as well as to present them in a visually appealing and eye-catching way – divide the text into paragraphs, use bullet points and add some images.
11. Failure to proofread an article before posting it online
A remarkable amount of available content makes expectations from copywriters considerably higher. Articles full of language mistakes are much less trustworthy now and are associated with the lack of professionalism.
12. Duplicate content
It’s a very common mistake for online stores. On the one hand, it’s not advisable (as far as SEO is concerned) to include descriptions of products provided by their producers – there’re a lot of such descriptions online so web crawlers don’t find your description valuable, often considering it even plagiarized content. On the other hand, duplicate content is frequently found in articles written by copywriters. It goes without saying that describing five almost identical coffee brewing machines by one manufacturer might prove difficult, but a good copywriter should be able to handle this challenge instead of copying and pasting mindlessly.
13. Unrelated content
Web crawlers are smarter than you think. An attempt to force irrelevant keywords into the content created will sooner or later see the light of day and can completely destroy web crawlers’ trust for your website, not to mention scaring away possible readers.
14. Forgetting about alt text, anchor text, etc.
SEO efforts should not be focused only on keywords included in articles. Of equal importance are alt text (alternative descriptions of images), anchor text (link wording) and many more (and you ought to know them all as a copywriter).
15. Failure to unlock the full potential of headings
Headings (h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6) are listed as one of the most important SEO aspects. Not only do they help structure and arrange a website, but they first and foremost are a clue for web crawlers. Headings are used for more than mere separation of a title and individual subheadings. Algorithms use headings to identify what a given website is actually about. Pay particular attention to h1 heading!
Copywriters have a saying: there’s only one constant in SEO – inconstancy. I feel it’s a slight exaggeration; personally, I’m much more inclined towards the second principle – ‘content is a king’. Keep in mind that informative, practical and reader-friendly content is of utmost significance and you’ll avoid most of the aforementioned mistakes.