Do promote yourself and have a call to action.
Don’t bore your readers by talking about yourself.
When asking your audience to do something, don’t try to persuade them by simply talking about your product. The hard-core sales pitch doesn’t cut it any longer in an over-hyped, digital age where people are bombarded with sales messages in every facet of communication: television, radio, billboards, banner ads, popup ads, email, blog posts, and embedded social media posts.
When you give them a call to action, follow it up with a compelling reason why. Tell them what the benefits are for buying your product, receiving your email updates, or coming to your event.
Do this by using the most powerful word in the English language: because.
According to Viralnomics, a psychological study found that when someone used the word “because” when asking to cut in line to make copies, people were 93% more likely to let them cut. Even when the reason they gave was no different than what everyone else standing in line was doing.
“May I use the Xerox machine, because I need to make copies?” Why, yes, since you put it that way!
Do write for someone with common sense.
Don’t try so hard to sound intelligent that you forget about the man on the Clapham omnibus.
In Britain, the English courts decide how to rule based on the average joe and how he would approach the situation. If the man on the Clapham omnibus thinks what you said was reasonable, then you’re good to go.
As a benchmark when you are writing, consider the reasonably educated but nondescript man in the back of the bus, and write for someone with common sense. Your writing needs to be simple and straightforward so your readers can understand you.
When I was in journalism school, they taught us the rule of K.I.S.S. If you keep it simple stupid, your average reader will think what you write is right on target.
Do write like you speak.
Don’t try for inflated, professional writing that sounds like legalize.
Good business writing has no place on your website, email, or anywhere you actually want people to read what you write. Get rid of the corporate jargon and cold formality and write something interesting that will distinguish you from the crowd.
When you want to warn someone they are in imminent danger, which warning is more effective?
a. Look out!
b. It is highly advisable that you adopt a course of action that will rapidly move you to a safer locale.
In writing, communicating the same way you speak will get your ideas across more efficiently and clearly. Check the readability of your writing at Readability-score.com. It gives a report of your writing sample’s grade level based on five readability formulas.
The Writer’s readability checker explains the different readability formulas and gives you a comparison chart to other types of writing once you enter in your sample. This post rated a grade level of 9, which is the same for the BBC News site. The Flesch-Kincaid reading ease score is used the most; it’s built into Word and the U.S. military uses it for their technical manuals.
Do use relevant keywords.
Don’t write to include keywords or engage in keyword stuffing.
Including keywords that people will use to search for you makes sense. Structuring your writing to include as many keywords as possible doesn’t. Creating high quality content is essential for SEO.
Doing keyword research is still important. Check out Copyblogger’s free keyword research guides. To learn what keywords and their variants Google found when crawling your site, use Webmaster Tools. After selecting your site on Webmaster Tools dashboard, click on Google Index, then Content Keywords.
If you’re being penalized for misuse of keywords, you can find out by clicking on Search Traffic, then Manual Actions.
Do aim for perfection in grammar and spelling.
Don’t let your pursuit of perfection come at the expense of more important things.
Hitting publish before you proofread is a wise move, but striving for perfection to the degree that you’re crippling your creative genius is unproductive.
As Seth Godin says, “no one reads a comic strip because it’s drawn well.” Don’t let your need for perfectionism overcome writing something your audience wants to hear.
Find someone else to proofread your work for mistakes. If you must do it, then read over your writing several hours later, read it aloud, and, if you’re extra cautious, read it backwards, sentence by sentence.
Occasionally, typos happen. Just as the minced oath “stuff happens” describes the existential observation that life is filled with imperfections, your website copy will have an error. Or two.
Just pray the Grammar Nazi doesn’t find you.