PHraseD, LLC, provides professional writing and editing services. To generate clients, when we first started, I would browse businesses on Instagram and then go and visit their websites to get an idea of the website copy styles and techniques that were being used. Almost every time, I left their page disturbed.
For a general overview on website copy and 5 tips you can use to write excellent website copy, visit 5 Tips You Need to Write Excellent Website Copy. Whereas, that first post gives a big picture approach to writing for a website, this post focuses on the 17 most common writing mistakes to avoid on your website and blog and helps you to learn how to recognize and fix them.
Most of the websites evaluated in this informal study had several errors, not some, not a few, several, and one of the first things you learn in marketing and branding is that serious errors in your website copy can negatively affect your SEO ranking, which allows your website to be discovered in searches. It also can cost you customers. Why? Many people will not do business with someone or a business whose website copy has a lot of errors. They see those errors as a lack of professionalism and effort. Don’t believe me? Look at what Forbes had to say about this topic.
Next, I did what I thought was the best option. I started sending messages via email, DM, messenger bird, you get the idea, to the owners of these businesses to let them know and to offer my services to correct the errors. Out of 50 businesses, only 2 contacted me to have the revisions done. Now, this is not to say that they couldn’t have hired someone else to perform the service, but I’ve checked on quite a few of them over time and the errors are still there.
What are the Most Common Writing Mistakes on Websites and Blogs?
Today, I’ve decided to try a new approach. I’m going to share The Top 17 Website Copy Errors You Don’t Know You’re Making and How to Fix Them with the hope of reaching a wider audience and helping more people to avoid the 17 most common writing mistakes made on websites and blogs. My recommendation of course is that you hire a professional to perform this service, namely PHraseD, but at bare minimum, now you can be aware of these common writing mistakes and try to avoid them. Alright, let’s dive in.
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The Top 17 Website Copy Errors You Don’t Know You’re Making and How to Fix Them
(as identified in an informal study on Instagram of 50 small and mid-level business websites)
*No errors were copied in their original form from a website or blog. The errors listed here use similar sentences to those located in PHraseD’s informal study*
17. Using “The” and “A” in the same way.
This common writing mistake was a low level mistake and was found on 2 of the websites visited. An example of this mistake in use is:
You will need a new package.
Now, I know you’re thinking, what’s wrong with that sentence, and the answer is absolutely nothing. However, it’s not stating what it is actually trying to say, which was :
You will need “the” new package.
The previous sentences in the website copy talked about the old packages that were available and introduced a new package. Since there is only 1 new package, the sentence should read, You will need the new package.
16. Unnecessary/Accidental Repetition
Another low level, common writing mistake, found in 4 of the websites evaluated, was unnecessary or accidental repetition. This error was probably due to the website copy not being carefully checked before posting. An example is:
Our outfits are perfect for any any upcoming events in your life.
This should be revised to:
Our outfits are perfect for any upcoming events in your life.
Not much to say here, except after adding to your website copy, take some time away from what you’ve written. Then go back and read it carefully looking for mistakes. When I’m too passionate or excited about something, I have to be careful, because I tend to make more errors.
15. Comma Usage
This common writing mistake showed up more frequently, but I still see it as a low level mistake because in most cases the customer can still understand what you’re trying to say. However, you do want to put your best foot forward, especially since websites can be so important to a business. Here’s an example of a mistake I saw frequently with comma usage:
My business Florally Me provides unique floral decor.
This should be corrected to :
My business, Florally Me, provides unique floral decor.
14. Commonly Confused Words
This common writing mistake was popular on almost all the blogs and websites evaluated, but was ranked lowly because it paled in comparison to how often the others were found and also because in some instances the reader might overlook the error, not noticing the wrong word was used or reading the correct word in place of the wrong one. An example of this error is:
We advice you to use our shea butter.
This should be corrected to read:
We advise you to use our shea butter.
13. Subject-Verb Agreement
Moving on up the line was subject and verb agreement. this common writing mistake was rampant on websites and blogs. Simply put, you must use a singular verb with a singular subject, and this is one of those things where an example might be best:
Our employees takes pride in providing quality service.
This should be corrected to read:
Our employees take pride in providing quality service.
The next common writing mistake on our list was capitalization. Be consistent with capitalization, in your website copy. Using lowercase letters for emphasis is ok, but use it consistently throughout the entire website. When in doubt, Google the questionable word or phrase. Also, be on the lookout for simple issues like lower casing the word “I”.
This common writing mistake was everywhere on websites. There is so much confusion on when to use an apostrophe s (‘s) to show ownership and when to use the plural form of a word. Let me try to clarify. Here’s an example of this mistake in action:
Our work ethic is key to our companies success.
The above text is incorrect in two ways. One, the website was only referring to a single business and two, it still isn’t showing possession, which was the actual goal. It should be revised to say:
Our work ethic is key to our company’s success.
Another way to solve that problem, if you keep having trouble, is to rephrase the sentence:
Our work ethic is key to the success of our company.
Now, there's no s, es, or ‘s to worry about. Problem solved!
Whew, that’s a lot of writing mistakes we’ve covered so far. Are you still hanging in there? Were you making any of the above common writing mistakes in your website copy? Have my tips been helpful? Don’t forget to subscribe to our website and check our blog frequently for helpful tips to grow your business and improve your quality of life. Ok, did you get some water, use the bathroom, ready to get back in the swing of things. Well, here we go with The Top 10, from the Top 17 Website Copy Errors You Don’t Know You’re Making and How to Fix Them.
10. Not only, but also (Correlative Conjunctions)
We all remember the conjunctions song from Schoolhouse Rocks, right? No, just me? Well, anyway. The ones on Schoolhouse Rocks were coordinating conjunctions like and and so. They join simple sentences. Correlative Conjunctions are pairs of words or phrases that should be used together. The biggest culprit of this common writing mistake on websites was "not only, but also". Here’s an example:
Our clients not only rate us 100% for customer satisfaction, but enjoy our frequent discounts.
This sentence should read:
Our clients not only rate us 100% for customer satisfaction, but also enjoy our frequent discounts.
Some other correlative conjunction pairs to watch out for in your website copy are Both/And and Neither/Nor.
Arg! I know that people hate spelling. Were you traumatized in a spelling bee? Well, regardless, you can always use spell check to lessen these common writing mistakes, however, spell check isn’t perfect and you’ll still need to carefully review your website copy to make sure you’re not making this common writing mistake. Some examples I found in our evaluation were:
Agin instead of Aging
Reltions instead of Relations
Arist instead of Artist
Shae instead of Shea
Each of these is a small writing mistake, which could’ve been caught. To help fix this problem, you need to implement a system in which the spelling is checked on all the materials you put out, before you share it.
8. Run-on/Lengthy Sentences
Try to avoid long complicated sentences in your website copy, unless they are absolutely necessary. Also, be careful to separate sentences into one complete thought, to avoid run-on sentences. These common writing mistakes can make it hard to understand your message and may cost you potential business. Here’s an example of a run-on sentence:
All sales are final there are no refunds or exchanges.
The above sentence should be corrected to:
All sales are final. There are no refunds or exchanges.
Some of you were probably shocked at the writing mistake above. It is typically assumed that run on sentences have to be long. They do not. Be careful to separate each complete thought or idea into its own sentence.
7. Unclear or Poorly Worded Sentences
Number 7 in The Top 17 Website Copy Errors You Don’t Know You’re Making and How to Fix Them is really similar to #8, but #7 has more to do with word choice and putting words in the best order. This is essential to communicating your message with potential clients/customers. This writing mistake was very common in many of the websites evaluated. Here’s an example of some of the phrasing I found:
With our experience we can give good service.
The sentence above leaves you feeling a bit confused. You think you know what it is trying to say, but you aren’t quite sure. It isn’t specific enough and is poorly worded. Here’s one way to revise it:
We provide excellent service, with our extensive experience as hair stylists.
6. Verb Forms
This common writing mistake was present in over 75% of the websites evaluated. The biggest culprit was with verb tenses, especially choosing the present or past tense. Here’s an idea of what this looks like on websites:
We was clear in our plan to design a high quality product.
Corrected, this should read:
We were clear in our plan to design a high quality product.
You’ve made it through 12 of the Top 17 Website Copy Errors, found in PHraseD’s evaluation of small and mid-level businesses. Were the most common mistakes, so far, what you thought they would be? Are there any writing mistakes that you found surprising? What processes will you be putting in place to ensure your website doesn’t fall victim to these common writing mistakes? More importantly, are you ready for the top 5? Let’s dig in!
#5. Plural/Singular Nouns and Verbs
This writing mistake was found in almost every site that was evaluated. In some cases there were errors with both singular and plural nouns and verbs. Need an example? Here you go:
She suffer from bad skin.
The sentence above should be corrected to:
She suffers from bad skin.
Now, here’s an example with nouns:
I provide coaching to all new small businesses owner.
When corrected, it should read:
I provide coaching to all new small business owners.
#4. No About Me Section
On, we go to #4 in the Top 17 Website Copy Errors You Don’t Know You’re Making and How to Fix Them. This one was not a grammatical error, just more of a huge oversight. Several of the websites I reviewed did not have an About Me section on their page. For those of you who are wondering why that deserves 4th place.
Many people like to connect to a brand, especially if what they’re purchasing is a service or something they want to continue buying in the future. A well written About Me section helps a business to start developing a relationship with potential clients and customers. It’s the reason reality TV is so popular.
We are for the most part social people and we like to get glimpses into the lives of the people and brands we love. Some tips on what to include in a well-written About Me section are:
1. Who you are: Name, expertise, and any other facts that may make you relatable to your target clients/customers.
2. Product/Service details: Information about the product/service you’re providing and how/why it can help your target clients/customers.
3. Relatable Content: Fun, meaningful, and engaging content that connects with your target clients/customers.
Drum roll please. Are you ready for the bronze, silver and gold medal winners in The Top 17 Website Copy Errors You Don’t Know You’re Making and How to Fix Them? Here are the top 3 most common writing mistakes to avoid on websites and blogs, as discovered in a random sample of small and mid-level businesses, conducted by PHraseD, LLC . Once you've mastered these errors and have removed them from your website, then you're ready to move on to writing to increase your online sales. Now, let's get back to the top 3 errors. Coming in at #3 we have:
#3 No/Insufficient Product Description
I was alarmed to realize how many business owners didn’t use product descriptions to sell their product and/or service. Think about it this way. You’re fortunate enough to get a visitor to your site, out of all the potential sites out there, and when they arrive they find … a picture and maybe three to four words (normally the name of the item).
Can you say missed opportunity? Here’s your chance to show what sets your product or service apart from others and convert visitors to clients/customers. If you’re making this common writing mistake on your website or blog, I strongly recommend following the steps below:
1. If possible, try to use high quality images instead of stock images. If you do use stock images, try to make sure they match your target demographic.
2. Touch, feel and interact with the product you’re selling and try to describe it through the eyes of your customers. If you’re one of my drop shipping friends, try to add as much information as you can on the product or item and then describe it in your own words. Do not just copy and paste information from the originating producer. That’s plagiarism, and can get you in a world of legal trouble, so don’t do it, but it is also ineffective at grabbing the attention of potential customers.
3. Speak directly to your target audience with the words you choose. Tell them how they can use the product or how it can be used to better their life.
Start small, and then expand as you go along. When in doubt, think about what your customer would want to see or know.
There is no doubt it might take some time to make these adjustments, but it will be worth it.
#2. Now to the 2nd Top Website Copy Error You Don’t Know You’re Making and How to Fix it.
I was genuinely surprised at this one because I thought everyone realized its importance in marketing and branding. Do you have any guesses? None at all. The 2nd Top Website Copy Error was Not Including Reviews and Recommendations.
Reviews and recommendations should be a key feature in your sales pitch. They help to sell your service or product to the next potential client/customer. Passionate and sincere reviews and recommendations can be more effective to business growth than social media ad campaigns, which just showcase your business.
Need help fixing this mistake? Here are some tips:
Step 1: Start making a list of your most frequent/loyal buyers or clients, people who have raved about your product and service. Now, ask them to “say" those things electronically, so others can make the same great decision they’ve made.
Step 2: Be specific about what you ask for when you ask customers to write a review or recommendation.
Here are my suggestions:
When a customer writes a review, encourage them to :
1. Write specifically about the service or good.
2. Avoid things like, “They are great!” Aim for “Florallyme always provides fresh, high quality flowers that stay fresh and brighten up my whole house.”
3. Also, try to get them to give their opinion of the quality of your product/service and the value for the money. For example: I always get way more than I think I paid for when I get flowers from Florallyme. The flowers last a long time and smell amazing.
4. Lastly, ask them to include information on the customer service and speed with which the good or service was provided.
If you are in this category of websites that are not using reviews and recommendations, please fix it immediately. Once you have, come back and let me know if you notice any change in your website traffic or orders.
We are finally at the top. I want to say I was surprised at the #1 Website Copy Error, but if I’m being honest, this problem isn’t just found on websites, it’s everywhere people write. I did debate between switching this writing mistake and the #2 writing mistake, but the numbers don’t lie. This writing mistake was consistently found in the 50 websites that were evaluated, and in many cases in several paragraphs and pages on the same website. I do think that in terms of the impact on your website, the #2 writing mistake is more important. Introducing the new heavyweight Most Common Writing Mistake to Avoid of the world. Well, you get the picture…
#1 HOMOPHONE CONFUSION
I cannot begin to explain how often this writing mistake was located. Worse, it was found on some websites as many as 5 times (I actually stopped counting after the 5th homophone error, so there could’ve been more).
Some of the biggest culprits were too, two and to; it’s and its; you’re and your, but the most consistent homophone confusion error was in using there, they’re and their. Here’s an example:
If your trying to find amazing outfits, shop with us today.
This should be corrected to:
If you're trying to find amazing outfits, shop with us today.
Here’s an example using the most notoriously confused homophones: there, their and they’re. Well not so much an example, more of a way to remember the difference. Ready?
There are people who need help with their writing and they’re in luck with PHraseD, LLC.
I sincerely hope you got some excellent pointers to help you as you create effective website copy and blog writing to grow your business and meet your goals. If you need more help, reach out to us at www.phrasedllc.com. We’d be happy to take the stress of writing website copy or blog writing off of your plate and help you “Make the Write Impact!” Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog and follow/like our accounts on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for more amazing content and helpful tips.
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