5 SEO copywriting mistakes you should avoid

Copywriting is a crucial element of every SEO strategy. High-quality content is what helps you rank and sets your site apart from all the other sites out there. So, you’ll want to do SEO copywriting the right way. Preferably without making any fatal mistakes. Want to know what not to do when you’re writing SEO copy? Let’s have a look at five SEO copywriting mistakes to avoid!

Are you struggling with more aspects of SEO copywriting? Don’t worry! We can teach you to master all facets, so you’ll know how to write awesome copy that ranks. Take a look at our SEO copywriting training and try the free trial lessons!

1. Not starting with keyword research

SEO copywriting always starts with keyword research. Now, it may be tempting to skip this time-consuming task and just wing it, but that can seriously harm your chances to rank! You can write tons of awesome content, but if it’s not optimized to rank for realistic search terms that people actually use, it won’t help you one bit. So, always take some time to think about the terms you want to be found for. Take keyword research seriously, it’ll definitely pay off.

2. Forgetting about search intent

Before you start writing, as you’re doing your keyword research, it’s also crucial to take a good look at search intent. You need to have a clear idea of the kind of intent that’s behind your keywords. People could be looking for information, a specific website, or they might want to buy something. Why is search intent important for SEO copywriting? Well, for example, if you write a sales-oriented, persuasive copy for a keyword that only has informational intent (rather than transactional) odds are you won’t rank. You simply won’t answer the searcher’s needs. Or, even if you do rank, visitors will likely leave instantly because they’re looking for other types of content. You don’t want that! 

The solution: as you’re doing keyword research, analyze the SERPs, so you have an idea of the intent behind the keyphrases you’re targeting. Write your content accordingly, giving some thought to your text purpose, tone of voice, length and call to action, for example. 

3. Not using synonyms

Search engines these days are incredibly smart: they understand that some words can have the same -or similar- meanings. Use that to your advantage! Don’t stuff your text with contrived occurrences of your exact focus keyphrase. Instead, make sure you use synonyms of your keyphrase. Not only will that help avoid repetition – which makes texts boring and hard to read- but you’ll also increase your chances to rank for related keywords!

In short: don’t make the mistake of neglecting synonyms and related keywords or keyphrases. Did you know that Yoast SEO makes optimizing for synonyms and related keywords a lot easier? The Yoast Premium plugin finds your focus keyphrase, even if the words appear in a different order in the same sentence. In addition, it allows you to optimize your text for synonyms and related focus keyphrases. That makes the plugin (almost) as smart as Google. I guess the real mistake here is not getting Yoast SEO Premium ;-) .

4. Not thinking about the user’s perspective

Something that often goes wrong in SEO copywriting: content that’s solely written from the site owner’s view, without taking the user into account. No wonder, as it’s very hard to forget everything you know and put yourself in your user’s shoes. Nevertheless, it’s important to try! You’ll soon realize that your user won’t really care about your product-related jargon, or why you think your product is awesome, or your blog post interesting. They want to know what problem of theirs you will solve, or what they will get out of reading your blog post.

Here are two short examples to give you an idea of the difference:

  1. We released Yoast SEO 12.X! It’s full of bug fixes, so we really believe you should update. 
  2. The latest version of Yoast SEO, 12.X, is here for you! Time to update, so you’ll get the smoothest experience of the plugin.

Which of the two appeals most to you, as a user? It’s probably the second one, right? Think about that when you’re writing your own SEO copy!

Bottom line: don’t make the mistake of neglecting your visitor’s perspective in your SEO copy. That also includes writing too much ‘I’ or ‘we’ in your content. Make it about your user, not yourself!

Read more: Engaging your online audience: 8 practical tips »

5. Writing unreadable texts

A final SEO copywriting mistake that people often make, is that they write posts that are hard to understand. A huge missed opportunity! If you make sure it’s easy for everyone to understand the message of your text, you’re opening up your content for a wide audience. That’s why writing a clear and readable text is a considerable part of your SEO copywriting strategy. People should be able to understand what you want to tell them. If you create copy that’s easy to comprehend, people will be less inclined to leave your site. They might even want to read your next post.

We know writing is hard. But there are things everyone can pay attention to write a nice, clear text. Don’t use too many long sentences. Avoid using many difficult words. If you write for more than one region, check if you didn’t make any confusing mixups. Check whether the structure of your text is clear. The Yoast SEO plugin helps you with the readability analysis, which includes the Flesch reading ease score. And there are other tools out there to help you write texts that are nice to read, such as Hemingway. So, there are no more excuses not to write a lovely, readable text!

Conclusion on SEO copywriting mistakes

SEO copywriting mistakes are made when people focus too little on the quality of their texts and skimp on preparation. But your rankings will soon pay the price… So make sure each text has an original idea, a story, that’s well-thought-out, factoring in the site’s visitors. And, your copy should be nice and easy to read. It’s a lot of work, but Yoast SEO can help you get on track! And, if your copywriting is starting to look good, you can check for other common SEO mistakes!

Keep reading: SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide »

Coming up next!

11 Responses to 5 SEO copywriting mistakes you should avoid

  1. Ali
    Ali  • 5 years ago

    Many thanks for your great articles and lessons. I always enjoy reading your articles and use your instructions in my websites. But why many websites using “Copywriting” term for advertising activities?

  2. Amidee
    Amidee  • 5 years ago

    I have difficulty understanding why my text has a readability issue. I write recipes and changing text and instructions are not always doable.

    How about yoast for recipe writing?

  3. Sanket Bhardwaj
    Sanket Bhardwaj  • 5 years ago

    Besided the lovely Yoast SEO plugin, the content that you guys are providing is totally remarkable. I was searching and found that this post was published 2 days back and it is now ranking #1 on google for more keywords and variations. That’s great, it would be appreciated if you guys can share some tips on how to do that. Because i am seeing that the length of the content is not so high.

  4. Ed Lange
    Ed Lange  • 5 years ago

    Very Helpful…but embarrassing as I have probably failed on most or all of these copy writing mistakes. Thanks for the tips, will certainly use them for future blogs

    • Hanneke
      Hanneke  • 5 years ago

      Everybody makes mistakes! (well, as long as you’re human)
      Mistakes are there to learn from, nothing embarrassing about that!

      Good luck :)

  5. Dibyajyoti Bordoloi
    Dibyajyoti Bordoloi  • 5 years ago

    Being a newbie blogger, I’ve learned something new about SEO copywriting mistakes. Thank you, Willemien!!

  6. Mount Everest
    Mount Everest  • 5 years ago

    Thank you so much WIllemien for this beautiful information regarding the avoidance of copywriting mistakes. It is very informative and m gonna use it while writing my blog content!!
    Thank you again!!

  7. Lorenzo Gutierrez
    Lorenzo Gutierrez  • 5 years ago

    Not starting with keyword research is a huge mistake. Good point.

  8. Badiru Sulaimon
    Badiru Sulaimon  • 5 years ago

    Great Willemien! This was very helpful