TopRank Marketing Editor

5 Tips for Avoiding the Deadly Sins of SEO Copywriting

TopRank Marketing Editor     Blogging Strategy, Keyword Research, Online Marketing, SEO

Deadly Sins of WritingNothing will turn readers away more quickly than blatant errors, boring copy and long-winded writers. Recognizing the deadly sins of SEO copywriting—and identifying ways to avoid them—is essential whether you’re drafting a blog post or creating an article to submit to an online directory.

Critical? Yes.

Difficult? It certainly can be.

But simplify the task and reduce the risk of losing your readers by following these 5 tips for avoiding the deadly sins of SEO copywriting.

HINT: Make yourself a checklist based on these tips and your own. Refer to that checklist at the end of every writing project.

1. Stop going on and on…and on and on. As a writer, one of the biggest challenges is removing yourself from your story in order to determine when enough is enough. To make your writing more concise and to the point:

• Read each paragraph one by one, asking yourself “Do my readers care?” after each.

• Search for repetitive or similar words throughout the copy to avoid repeating yourself.

• Ask an uninvolved, unbiased person to read your copy and offer feedback.

2. On the other end of the spectrum, make sure you’re providing enough detail. As the writer, you know everything there is to know about your story. But keep in mind that your reader doesn’t. Ask yourself these questions:

• Have I answered the old 5 Ws of news reporting: who, what, where, when and why?

• Have I included real-world examples to support my premise?

• Do I have specific numbers to back up my premise?

• Is industry jargon well defined for the reader?

3. Recognize that spell check isn’t the end-all, be-all quality-assurance mechanism. We’ve all read a cringe-worthy misspelled headline or two, and thought, “Didn’t they spell check?” Spell check features are no doubt handy little tools. But they may not alert you to grammatical errors or use of wrong words. (Wait, is it principal or principle?) Include multiple steps in your quality-assurance process:

• Read your copy aloud.

• Have a set of fresh eyes give your story a read.

• Conduct one last spell check and read-through before publishing.

4. Don’t be a bore! When was the last time you read an article or a blog post that put you to sleep? Ensure your readers stay entertained and engaged by:

• Using the active tense instead of the passive to bring your copywriting to life. Instead of “He was honored by the organization at the banquet,” use “The organization honored him at the banquet.” Quick hint: Avoid using “is,” “was” and “were” followed by an “ing” verb form.

• Keeping your sentences short. To create easy-to-read copy that won’t lose your readers, try keeping sentences no longer than 1.5 to 2 lines. And unless you’ve got a long list, try using no more than 2 commas per sentence.

• Varying your words. It’s easy to get into the habit of using verbs like “has” or “is.” Instead, think of alternatives like “owns” or “marks.” A quick find and replace will show how many times you’ve repeated these common words.

5. Remember your keywords. Many writers, especially those with a print background, get caught up in constructing the most original, catchy headline possible. But with SEO copywriting, clever headlines that don’t take keywords into consideration are all but useless. So:

• Try writing a catchy headline first, then revise it to include your keyword.

• When you’re determining your targeted keyword, already have a general headline in mind.

• Do a quick Google search of your targeted keyword to gain inspiration for what others have done.

What do you consider a deadly sin of SEO copywriting and how do you avoid it?

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  1. Avatar tampabaywebdesign says

    I agree, I worked with a guy that did not understand this concept. Great article.

  2. I particularly like the #1 tip. Many keep on writing long stories while the web is a world where everyone want to get the information as quickly as possible and as concise as possible.

    Many believe otherwise, but I think while you can complete your say, do your readers a favor and put a period!

  3. I always struggle with the passive/active tense. I seem to get them confused. But honestly, your little tip helps to clear it up. All in all these are some great tips for improving your writing!

  4. Oh my you mean my problem with “bloggorhea” can be a problem. I do tend to ramble on and on and…

    Excellent advice.

  5. Avatar Suzanne Vara says

    Excellent points here. #2 is really covers a lot of ground especially with the industry jargon. People do not know everything about every industry and many times readers are left with huh? what does that mean.

    Great article.

  6. Avatar carolemahoney says

    Great points and a good reminder that SEO friendly copy is not just about keyword (stuffing)- it is about good copy. I personally like to target copy writing by using a customer persona that give a visual description of the intended audience. This is a great guide to help determine what readers care about, (point #1) and what they need to know about (point #2).

    Still important- keywords!!!! These are after all the questions your audience is asking- frame it in their words, not your own.

  7. Avatar rivaldogibbs says

    thank you very much for the really cool stuff

  8. I think the biggest sins are wasting keyword opportunities in <title> and <h1> tags. These days we're helping to index accurately, as well as to write.

  9. Great article, it's a tricky balance SEO copywriting, balancing keywords with interesting useful content – thanks!

  10. Thanks! Good points for me, as I will be writing copy soon. I also have issueswith spelling and grammar errors in blogs and newsletters. Erodes my confidence in the authors being the “experts” they make themselves out to be.

  11. This is a great article with some good points to remember. Point 4 is an important one, you have to remind yourself that you are writing your content for people as well as search engines so it needs to make sense and not be boring.

  12. Always valuable tips. Keep up the great posts!

  13. Avatar Gold Trading Tips says

    Well it's seem pretty good points which are very helpful tips. I'm sure many would benefit from it.

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  15. Avatar rayfellers says

    Thanks for the good article. Item 5 lays the foundation for understanding keyword importance. As you point out, good keyword selection is critical. A great keyword tool finds keywords that searchers use and that search engines consider to be of real value to their users.

  16. Very interesting post. Ive been doing seo copywriting but im not that aware to some deadly sins of seo. That a good share.

  17. Very interesting post. Ive been doing seo copywriting but im not that aware to some deadly sins of seo. That a good share.