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5 pitfalls to avoid as a copywriter

Earlier this year, my colleague Signe gave you 15 concrete tips for writing a good landing page.

If you've read the blog post, you already know the SEO value of thorough keyword analysis, value propositions, call-to-actions, meta descriptions and SEO titles - essential conditions for your landing page to be visible in search results.

Now I'm going to go into the text formatting of a well-written landing page. The text should cement your credibility in the minds of potential customers.

Unfortunately, many people fall into the same bad habits when writing SEO texts. In this post, I've selected a handful of them.

Read on to find out what to avoid as a copywriter - and what to do instead.

Adam Ketelsen
- SEO-specialist
Last updated: 12. dec. 2022

1. Empty platitudes and empty adjectives

Texts on company landing pages and about us pages are often long, self-congratulatory ramblings full of flat platitudes and empty adjectives.

As a result, Google users can find a bewildering array of landing pages with virtually identical text, with more or less only the company name separating one text from another.

Typical examples of platitudes are:

  • We are quality conscious
  • We put the customer first
  • We collect happy customers
  • We are flexible
  • We deliver on time
  • We have been around for X number of generations

If you've ever tried to google a service, you've probably come across one of these phrases - or all of them on the same page.

Google has certainly come across them - many times. At the time of writing, Google has 12,900 results for the search "we put the customer first" - closely followed by "we deliver on time", which returns 12,800 results.

There is nothing new in a company being quality conscious, customer oriented and delivery capable. It would be new if a company were not - although such a company would probably have a rather short life.

So you don't have to explain it explicitly. 12,900 others have already done so.

So what should you do instead?

Show it instead! Make it concrete - not abstract.

So how can you make it concrete to the customer that you are quality conscious?

If you are a mover, for example, you could write that you use packing and strapping to ensure that fragile belongings don't break. You know your trade inside out and you know what quality means. But your customers don't necessarily.

That's why you need to show them you're quality conscious - not tell them you are.

In other words, you need to paint a picture for your potential customers. In rhetoric - the study of oratory and persuasion - we sometimes talk about evidentia. This means that texts or speeches have the quality of making the recipient form a picture in his mind's eye.

And that is exactly what you should strive for in your texts: to make the recipient - and therefore a potential customer - form a picture in his mind's eye.

Therefore, drop the platitudes and empty adjectives in your writing, and replace them with examples and evidence. Show it, don't tell it.

2. Flat platitudes and empty adjectives are - and not what they do

When you replace your platitudes and adjectives with concrete examples, you're already well on your way to not falling into the next pitfall.

Because the problem with platitudes is not just that they make your texts abstract.

The problem is also that they may describe what your company is - but not what it does. For example, the fact that a company has been around for X number of generations is information that tells you nothing about either the benefit or the return to the customer.

Who says that a company equals quality because it has been around for generations? What if they have treaded water and never renewed themselves despite several generational changes?

As a company, you should put yourself in the place of the recipient - not your own. Although few would admit it, most of us act in our own self-interest. So do your customers. And it's not in their interest that your business has been around for X number of generations - only yours.

So what should you do instead?

Ask yourself, what advantage does it give the customer that your company has many years of history? And last but not least: What's in it for the customer?

One advantage, for example, could be that the customer gets the opportunity for sparring from an experienced staff with knowledge and professionalism. A benefit could then be that the customer is guaranteed to receive the service or product requested.

So you need to communicate explicitly what a fact or feature does.

Does your company have the largest product range in the Nordic region? Fantastic! Then clarify the benefit: customers get all their needs in one place and avoid the time and hassle of shopping at several different retailers.

In other words, you need to point out a value to your potential customers. You need to tell them not just what your business is - but what it does for them.

In sales and marketing, this strategy is known as the FFU model. And it's a strategy you can use to good effect in your SEO texts.

3. Businesses that talk past customers with understood jargon

As a dentist, you know that "gingivitis" is the Latin word for gum inflammation. If you work in law, you probably take it for granted that "exheredere" means to make heirless. And if you work in SEO, terms like "dwell time", "CTA" and "keyword stuffing" are a natural part of your vocabulary.

Because of course you master the jargon and jargon of your own profession. And it's perfectly understandable that you want to communicate your professionalism to your clients. But you risk shooting yourself in the foot if you take your own professionalism for granted.

Your profession is not your customers' profession - otherwise they wouldn't have googled the service you provide. That's why it's important that your text doesn't leave potential customers with unanswered questions.

Scripture is subject to the condition that it is solitary. As the sender of a text, you are not in the same space as your readers. Writing, unlike conversation, is not a dialogue - but a monologue. There is nothing new in that. The Greek philosopher Plato knew this already in ancient times - and he accused writing of being non-dialogical.

But just because the writing is lonely, it doesn't mean you should leave your readers muttering alone. And even if the writing is undialogical, it doesn't mean you should talk past your readers.

So what should you do instead?

Precisely because writing is solitary and non-dialogical, it is important for a text to be self-explanatory. Because your readers - and therefore your potential customers - don't have the opportunity to have terms they don't understand explained to them.

Therefore, they are also likely to feel overlooked or talked down to if they come across a text overflowing with jargon. So cut down on the jargon and put yourself in the customer's shoes.

Think about the questions you encounter in your everyday life. What do your customers ask? What makes your patients wonder? What words would you wonder about if you didn't have your own experience and training?

A self-explanatory text at eye level will make your customers feel more comfortable - and thus make your company appear more trustworthy.

4. Convoluted wording - even writing can become too written

Try to think back to your primary school days. You've just got your Danish back. With anticipatory glee, you look disappointedly at your Danish teacher's admonishing comment: "Too oral!" - in ominous red, no less.

Does your Danish teacher's comment still haunt you when you write texts? And do you therefore do everything to make your texts as written as possible?

If so, it's time to forget some of what you learned in primary school.

For example, I came across the following wording on a moving company's website:

"Having arrived at the new location, your effects will be placed at your request."

The above sentence may sound fantastic to your old Danish teacher. But it won't look good in your readers' eyes - if they even bother to read it.

We are hopelessly impatient on the internet and often skim websites for information rather than read the texts from cover to cover.

Therefore, your readers are also likely to lose interest if they have to chew their way through long winded phrases, foreign words and interpolated sentences within other interpolated sentences.

Even writing can become too writing.

So what should you do instead?

Drop the high lix numbers, turn down the level of abstraction, and make your text more oral.

Of course, that doesn't mean you have to write as you speak. Oral language is ephemeral and bound to a specific time - and will therefore be characterised by filler words, superfluous repetitions and impulsive interjections. You should, of course, cut these out of your texts.

But you can use oral effects to your advantage.

Oral language also has advantages that you can use in writing. For example, it is rich in imagery, personal, dynamic and concrete - qualities that can help make your texts more understandable and reader-friendly.

Therefore, you can use oral grasps in your text drafting. You can do this by, for example:

  • Writing short sentences - only one piece of information for each sentence
  • Put the most important information at the beginning of the sentence - and the more detailed information at the end
  • Use imagery and metaphors to make your products or services more tangible

So how can you rewrite "once you arrive at the new location, your effects are placed at your request" to make it more verbal?

For example, try: "We'll put your moving boxes where you want them". Less is more.

5. Fear of fillers results in too few linking words

As I have already mentioned, we see a lot when we surf the web. That's why it's super good to remember to avoid superfluous words that aren 't needed.

Yes, filler words can be annoying - not least for a reader who has landed on your site because they need a need met. We've warned against the use of fillers in the past in our post "15 tips for your landing page". So have countless other communications agencies.

And with good reason. There's no need for more noise on the internet, and filler words can easily make your text drown in the crowd.

That said: Everything in moderation!

For many copywriters, the fear of filler words turns into too few connectors. I often come across texts where it is clear that the writer has taken the advice to avoid fillers a little too literally.

The result is a fragmented text with a lot of information that doesn't seem to have any coherence.

So what should you do instead?

First of all, you can always try to listen to whether a filler word is actually a filler word that hinders understanding - or whether it is a linking word that contributes to understanding.

Communications agencies often warn against the use of words such as "so", "then", "just" and "namely". And yes, the words are sometimes used as superfluous filler.

Conversely, they can also help a text move forward and flow. Connecting words can therefore help make your text more comprehensible.

It is possible that the word "therefore" is sometimes used to repeat a point. But it can also help to emphasise a point and clarify the value of a claim.

It is also possible that words like "namely" and "so" are considered by some to be spoken language and contribute nothing. But they can also help to justify a claim and create coherence in your text.

So how do you judge whether a word is fill or connection?

Read your text aloud when you write. Did you come across the word when reading? Then it's a filler word. Conversely, if you remove it from the text, is there a missing link? Then it is a linking word.

Avoid the pitfalls of a copywriter

Still worried about falling into the traps? Feel free to contact Webamp and let one of our copywriters write your landing page.

Contact us on +45 70 60 50 28, info@webamp.dk or via our contact form.

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