A style, grammar, spelling or punctuation mistake in a beautiful text is like a fly in your favourite dish: although small, it makes you stop eating altogether. Many potentially amazing pieces of copy have become completely ineffective and performed poorly as a result because of one (or several) small mistakes. These mistakes are often overlooked because the writers are so taken with the idea they want to express that they overlook the form in which they put it.
The mistakes we will address in this article are quite common and on the first look they are hard to observe. But every writer is biased and a little blinded by their conviction that they gave their best. If we are to sum up the tips and advice we will present in this article, the golden rule is: write when inspired, edit and proofread once your enthusiasm has cooled down.
Without any further delays, these are the most important ways in which you should fix your copywriting mistakes:
- Do Not Rely on the Spell Checker
All text editors offer spell checkers and they are very useful, especially the autocorrect option. However, they are not the ultimate proofreading tool and they should not replace your own care and diligence in editing your texts. In some instances, you may have typed a word which exists in the English grammar, but it is not the right one for the context. The spell checker will not underline it in red, drawing your attention to correct it.
On other occasions, the spell checkers of word editors are not up to date with the evolution of the vocabulary. For instance, until very recently the word “smartphone” was underlined in red as a spelling error. No online tool will ever replace your own proofreading, so remember to do it (preferably on a print-out – mistakes are more apparent than on a computer screen).
- Reduce Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is not only penalised by Google, it is also annoying for readers. If they keep reading the same word in almost every sentence, they get annoyed (this is the natural effect of repetition). The ideal percentage of keywords in any text is 1% (five keyword occurrences in a 500-word text).
What happens to the excess when you cannot simply delete those words from the sentences? Replace them with synonyms. If you are running out of ideas, websites such as Thesaurus.org and Synonym.com will help you out.
- Read out Your Texts
When you are writing, your inner voice is dictating words with a specific intonation. The text feels and reads correct, without any embarrassing double meaning. But once you read it aloud or give it to someone else to read, the mistake is apparent. For example, it may seem correct to say “bed for babies, with rocking legs”, because a patient reader will make the pause induced by the comma. To a hurried reader, it will have a totally, inadvertently funny meaning…
- Slay Verbosity
One of the key features of good copywriting is brevity. People are not very patient – they either get the point and get hooked onto a piece of content on the spot, or they move on. And, before they even consider reading, they scan the piece of content to estimate how much time it would take. If they see a long and compact block of text, most likely they will not go past the headline.
“But how can I know if my text is too long?” There are many readability tests available online – you should submit every text to analysis and adapt it according to the results. In time, you will learn how to create great copy, with the exact length to meet the most rigorous readability standards.
- Avoid Jargon and Acronyms
Jargon will not make you look smart and knowledgeable in your field, because they sound obscure and confusing to the reader. If you want a funny example of the results of not understanding jargon, Google the story involving Will Overhead. This is not the kind of celebrity status you want to attain.
Now, when it comes to acronyms, some of them are well-known to most people, such as SEO, CTA and PPC. But even in their case you should not presume that all your readers know them and you should introduce them by their full wording. Once you have made the introduction, you can continue to use only the acronym for the remainder of the text.