14 Words Never to Use In Writing Web Copy

by Wayne Sharer

International speaker, author, and entrepreneur. Retired navy officer, former commanding officer. Over 35 years of leading, coaching, mentoring, and speaking.

October 26, 2015

Your online career in digital products and services is just words away from being the biggest and best thing you ever did.

How can I make such a bold claim?

Writing web copy is all about words and choosing the right words to ultimately get your reader to take the action you desire. The action could be:

  • Read another article
  • Click a link
  • Opt in to claim a bonus or free offer
  • Call you
  • Email you
  • Buy a product
  • Or just about anything you need a potential customer to do

How good you become at writing web copy could determine the entire future of your business.

You can have the most awesome product or service ever yet the business person with the half-assed product may out sell you and you can’t figure out why. Your lame competitor could be getting the same targeted visitors from the same sources. Despite your product being superior, this low-grade competitor is still out selling you daily.

What makes the difference is how well the writing of the web copy is done. Yours probably sucks, and it is likely the sole reason you don’t make the sales you should.

The place to start is looking at the words you should never use in writing web copy.

There are many, so right now you will get 14 to start looking at in your copy so you can eliminate one of the problems making your copy weak.

#1 Tell

This word plays on the subconscious. People generally like to believe they don’t want to anyone telling them how to do anything. It effects people to varying degrees depending on the individual.

Nonetheless, people like to not be told how to do things, they like to believe they solved the problem themselves.

To generate this reward in your reader’s mind, don’t tell them you are telling them. Instead use words like reveal, uncover, expose, divulge, unfold to name a few.

#2 That

Look at a piece of your copy or anyone’s copy. Notice how many times the word “that” is used. As an author, I try to eliminate that anyplace I can. I is almost always unnecessary.

This is true in writing web copy and sales copy.

Removing the word that makes things simpler, and often less awkward. Here’s a common way you will notice local businesses using that

Welcome to our site. Our company is one that focuses on providing…

Try rewording it to something like…

Welcome to “Business Name.” We focus on creating/delivering…

See the difference? Often you can simply just remove the word that from the sentence with no other change. Give it a try.

#3 Buy

How can the word “buy” be bad for your writing web sales copy? Simply stated, the word “buy” makes people think immediately of spending money and diverts their attention from solving their problem which really what your product or service is all about. Using this word in your copy will tune most people out very quickly.

Of course people know they must buy things to get what they want. Therefore, you don’t need to remind them of that when writing web copy. This doesn’t mean you can’t use the word Buy on your buy buttons or places where you want them to make the buying action.

However, in your sales message or article uses words such as claim, get, start now, get yours instead of simply buy. These terms don’t have a direct connection to spending money.

#4 That are/That is

Like #2 above, this includes the word that and adds a passive verb. This kind of structure is unnecessary and seriously weakens your message. In almost all cases, this phraseology should be removed or reworded to eliminate it from your web or sales copy.

#5 Learn

Nearly everyone thinks of learning as something difficult. Most also consider learning as something which isn’t much fun. The word subconsciously reminds readers of school days.

So try using a different word in place of learn such as; discover, uncover, gain, explore, realize, devise, originate, pioneer, etc..

#6 If

The word “if” from a sales position can be almost a negative. It allows your reader to make decisions based on conditions to choose from. Instead you should be definitive and use words such as; when, while, during. These words eliminate the possibility of conditions or choices.

Using words such as when or will plant a seed of little doubt from of the outcome and leads the customer to take your desired action.

#7 Nothing/No/Not

These words get used to convey there is something you can’t do. No one is reading your web sales copy to find out what you can’t do.

In fact, doing this will make you look very negative. Instead, use your words productively and tell your potential customers what you can and will do.

#8 Stuff

In any type of writing, using such unclear, abstract terms as “stuff” shows your amateur skills. No one wants stuff. It is an atrocious way to describe anything in when writing web copy. If you need to be vague, then phrases such as secrets, insider secrets, discoveries, revelations, confidential information should be used instead.

#9 But

The word “but” instantly invokes the thought of something about to happen. Using this word can bring up harsh ideas of what may be coming. Subtler means should be used to introduce something about to happen, in most cases.

#10 Things

“Things” is another very abstract word. Using it allows your reader to create any image in their mind they desire. The word does not add anything to your copy unless you have a very good reason for not being more clear. Think of anything more specific in place of “things.” In most cases words like techniques, tricks, tips, methods, tools, skills will work in a much more positive way.

#11 Dedicated/Innovative/Excellence/Passionate

I could actually make this list of platitudes much longer. All of these terms are vague and used on virtually every business website around. If you don’t believe me, take a look for yourself.

Search some local businesses. Choose any product or service niche and look at their websites.

They can literally be used to describe any company, business, product or service. These words should not be necessary to describe what you offer because they should be assumed. Instead, you must find words or phrases to make your offer stand out from the others. The right words really are different for every business.

#12 Industry Leader/Market Leader/Best/Number 1

Like #11, these words are also platitudes. People literally roll their eyes when they read selfish words. You believe they create credibility, but (notice I chose to use the word “but” here) in reality your credibility is destroyed. You should be the best or believe you provide the best products or services.

The only time you should consider using these terms or phrases if when you receive an award and they were used as part of the award description of you.

#13 We

Speaker and writers make this mistake all the time. No one actually wants to just be a part of the big we. They want you to talk directly the them. It bores your reader because it allows them to subconsciously decide you don’t have their personal needs at heart.

Instead, talk directly to your audience. You should not be afraid to use the word “you.” It gets the reader’s attention and keeps them engaged.

#14 There are

Just don’t use this. This passive phrase is used most commonly in copy to open sentences. It should not be used at all. Passive verbs should be limited in their use, and “there are” should never be used to open a sentence or idea.

Now you have 14 words never to use when writing web copy or sales copy.

If you choose to use them, you should be sure it is a conscious decision. Now that you know why you should not use these words, you have the knowledge you need to make a conscious choice about using them.

Overuse, or unconscious use will destroy your web copywriting by stealing the power of the other words around them.

To learn more about simple ways to improve your website copywriting, I invite you to click here now to claim at seat at this free training.

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