The smarter you think you sound the dumber you look

Is your thesaurus your best friend? Are you horrified at the prospect of writing a sentence without at least one word consisting of four or more syllables? In the online copywriting world, verbose is distinctly out of fashion, with readers, shoppers and the search engines preferring content in short chunks. Web users are notoriously fickle and text written at a graduate level can raise your bounce rate and reduce your website’s sales.

The secret of good copywriting isn’t showing off how clever you are and how many complicated words you know, it’s the words you don’t use. Think of how you feel after a long, hard day at work If your brain feels like soggy cotton wool and the simplest facts don’t quite permeate your brain then you will immediately know who you should be writing for. If even your intelligent readers have to reach out for the dictionary to figure out the message you are trying to get across then you have lost the rest of them forever. Few writers have the luxury of a captive audience – the chances are that you aren’t J K. Rowling and you don’t feel the need to teach the nation’s children vocabulary.

When writing, those starting out would save themselves a great deal of heartache if they were to learn that online copywriting isn’t about showing off your writing skills in flashy graphics. Good copy is invisible, nothing should stand out as unusual or make the reader frown as they attempt to read the same sentence again. In academia, a 50 word sentence is considered long, so keep clauses in your sentences to a minimum and aim to keep sentences succinct – between 15-20 words with the sole purpose of being simple.

So other than keeping sentences simple, how can you stop your SEO copywriting falling in to the “headscratcher” category?

- Write for yourself when you’re tired and out of sorts, using this technique will help you keep your writing tight and to the point.

- Throw away your thesaurus, there is no need to use a long word when a short one will say exactly the same thing and make your writing accessible to a larger audience.

- Edit with a fresh mind where possible and leave your writing for a few hours before looking at it again. If you’re working to a deadline, read your work aloud to see if it makes sense.

* We’ve been a bit naughty, can you spot three words that we didn’t need to use?

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