17 Words to Stop Using on Your Landing Pages

Aretha Franklin
Have a little R E S P E C T for your prospects; talk to them like humans. Image source.

Let me guess…

You’re an honest person. Genuine, helpful and frank.

You work hard to write good copy for your website.

You avoid sleazy sales talk. You ignore marketing drivel.

But could it be that a dash of sales hype sneaks into your copy, turning off prospects and dampening your conversion rates? It happens. All the time. The web is full of insincere prattle.

Here’s a list of words that you might want to ban from your web copy because they’re overused, meaningless or a tad sleazy.

Most of all, you’ll want to avoid using them on your landing pages, where conversions are of the essence.

Part I: Gobbledygook

Some words are so overused that they’ve become filler.

They pad sentences without adding meaning.

When you needlessly slow your reader down, you increase the risk that they’ll click on the back button. And that’s when you might lose them forever.

The words below are meaningless filler:

  1. Market-leading – Which market are you leading? And do your customers care?
  2. Best-in-class – Unless you have research to prove why you’re the best, you better scrap this phrase.
  3. World-class – Are you really among the best in the world? Like Usain Bolt?
  4. State-of-the-art and cutting-edge – Do you mean you’re not behind the times?
  5. Industry-standard and first-rate – Does anyone ever claim to deliver goods or services that are below industry standards or second-rate? Well?

Rather than padding your sentences with empty phrases, tell readers exactly what’s so good about your service or product and explain why that’s important for them. How do you make your customer’s life better? Does your product or app take away hassle and pain? Does it make your reader happier, more productive, or more relaxed?

On their homepage, Synthesis lets customers explain why their service is so good:

synthesis-example
Image via Synthesis.

Keep this in mind when writing landing page copy:

Slaughter gobbledygook. Simply state why your product is good and why your reader should care. » Tweet this «

Part II: New and improved mumbo-jumbo

You’re excited.

You’re launching a new product. And you can’t wait to let the world know about your wonderful new features.

But how do you share your excitement without sounding like a huckster?

Some words are so overused that they may reduce the credibility of your product page copy:

  1. Breakthrough – Have you discovered the God particle? Or are you exaggerating your contribution to mankind?
  2. Next-generation – Were you thinking about going back in time to launch the previous generation?
  3. Innovative – When you have to tell us your product or app is innovative, it probably isn’t. Why don’t you simply tell us what it does?
  4. Revolutionary and pioneering – Were you the first the climb Mount Everest? Or cross the Atlantic Ocean?
iphone-5s-example
Image via Apple.

Instead of using mumbo-jumbo, tell readers exactly what’s new and how they’ll benefit from it. This is how Apple describes the improved camera on the iPhone 5s product page:

A large sensor allows the individual pixels to get larger. And larger pixels, not more pixels, mean a better picture. So iPhone 5s has an all-new 8MP sensor. One that’s 15 percent larger than before, with pixels measuring 1.5 microns. We also increased the aperture to f/2.2. All that adds up to 33 percent greater light sensitivity. That’s significant, because more light gives you better, brighter images with even more accurate colors. And the new True Tone flash intelligently figures out exactly how much light your shot needs.

Notice how the Apple copywriters present exact numbers to explain the improved light sensitivity of the camera. These facts increase credibility.

But facts don’t speak for themselves, so Apple also tells you why these numbers matter to you: “more light gives you better, brighter images with even more accurate colors“. They always translate features into benefits.

Whether on a product page or a landing page, facts increase credibility, but benefits sell. » Tweet this «

Part III: Superlative sales speak

Your readers will detect even a hint of slick sales speak.

They will sense the slightest insincerity in your landing page copy.

Use superlatives only in these situations:

  • You prove why you offer the fastest or best service. Quote your sources, use test results or mention specific figures to increase your credibility.
  • You quote someone else who says your product is the best they ever used. Allow your customers to boast on your behalf. But be careful: sugary testimonials can make you lose credibility, too.
  • You use a superlative in a question. For example, “Could this be the best IT service in Manchester?” A question makes you sound a little humbler.

Avoid sounding like a yellow-highlighter salesman who’s only interested in making more money. Reconsider using these phrases on your website:

  1. Most whatever – For example, “Most business owners use this product.” Superlatives can quickly dent your credibility.
  2. Amazing, stunning, fantastic and ultimate – These words are almost like superlatives and the same rules apply.

Unbounce lets customers use words like “wonderful” and “amazing” while their own homepage copy is more understated:

unbounce-example
Image via Unbounce.

This lesson applies to absolutely any page on your site, but it especially applies to landing pages.

Be careful with over-hyped sales copy. Nobody likes being sold to. » Tweet this «

Part IV: Meaningless drivel

When your reader starts to mumble, “Yeah, yeah,” you begin to lose them.

This happens when you use obvious terms, such as “quality product.” Have you ever seen a website claiming to offer an average product?

To avoid this type of reaction, scrap these phrases from your web copy:

  1. Fast delivery – Customers would rather hear when they can expect your product delivery.
  2. Superior quality or top quality product – If your product has a high quality, explain exactly why. Is it the material? The manufacturing process?
  3. Excellent customer service - If your service is excellent, tell readers why. Do you solve all complaints within three hours? Do you have a no-quibble guarantee? Are your opening hours longer than those of your competitor?

This is how Man Crates describes their customer service on their about page:

man-crates-example
Image via Man Crates.

The following is especially true on a landing page, where you want to be as concise as possible:

Enhance your credibility. Use specific details to explain the quality of your service or product. » Tweet this «

Part V: Needlessly complicated jargon

Web readers are in a hurry.

They have to catch up with the news. They want to skim through the latest Unbounce blog posts. And they need to check out the latest cat pictures on Google+ or Facebook.

We’re all busy. Make your text as easy to understand as possible:

  1. Utilize or leverage – In most cases, “use” or “benefit from” is an easier-to-read alternative.
  2. Alleviate – Why not simply “ease” pain?
  3. Very, actually, really, just, and other adverbs – Adverbs are almost always unnecessary. They slow your reader down. Cut these words and you’ll see that your copy becomes easier to read.

Evernote’s homepage doesn’t suggest that you “utilize Evernote’s apps to alleviate the stress of modern life.” Instead, they use simple words to explain the benefits of Evernote:

evernote-example
Image via Evernote.

Use simple instead of difficult words. Avoid jargon. And tighten your text. » Tweet this «

The truth about bad copy

I’d love to tell you that writing landing page copy is easy.

I’d love to tell you that you only need to know a few simple tricks.

But the truth is that writing straightforward copy that converts is hard work. Damn hard work.

You need to understand the wishes, desires and dreams of your customers. You need to know how you can overcome any hesitation to buying from you.

Sneak into your customer’s mind to find out which hassle you can take away, which trouble you can help avoid.

Use the words your customers use. Speak their language and your copy will convert. Your business will grow.

Your turn.

Now I want to hear from you: What overused landing page copy irritates you most?

– Henneke Duistermaat

About The Author

Photo of Henneke Duistermaat

Henneke Duistermaat is a blogging coach and irreverent copywriter. She’s on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to make boring companies charming. Looking to improve your web copy? Get the free ebook 21 Easy Tips to Turbocharge Your Web Copy and Win More Customers at Enchanting Marketing.
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Comments

  1. Rahat says:

    Basically, stop being cheesy and write like you talk. Even with a small trickle of traffic, my website is converting highly well.

  2. Jeremy Darko says:

    Truthfully, this is ALL speculative. You are simply stating what your opinion on what YOU consider Bad Copy. Who’s to say if using words like world-class won’t convert well. No one likes to be sold, but everything is sales. Nothing happens until someone sells something. Even if you sell around the product you are still selling. I do think it is best to be as concise as possible but everything else is just moot.

    • Henneke says:

      It’s true that it’s always important to test. What works for one audience might not work for another audience.

    • Ryan Engley says:

      Agreed that it’s speculative as there isn’t data to back it up, but I think Henneke makes many great points.

      “Best-in-class,” “industry standard” and the like are very often just padding. They don’t sell any extra benefit and as there are much more effective devices to build trust — like sincere testimonials. Reading landing page after landing page, I see many people focus on *what* their product or offering is about, not *why* their visitors should be interested.

      Best-in-class and industry standard are very me focused, when I tend to see that successful copy is you focused instead. How will I be different after I sign up for your service or buy your product? Why will my life be better? I don’t care that *you’re* best in class, I want to be best in class.

      • Jeremy Darko says:

        By ultimately integrating testing…risk reversal…upsells…and backends, you will know what is going to work & what works with a specific audience versus what won’t. It’s true that some of these are cliche, but most people are like sheep. They simply follow the herd & they don’t care. Apple is a great example I do like their copy, but will it work for your audience? There is NO way to know unless you test. Finally, when you are launching an endeavor the most important factor is What’s In It For Them.

    • Damien says:

      But there IS tons of data to back it up. That’s why web copywriters who’ve tried various approaches on real client sites and figured out what converts keep coming back to these same principles.

      Of course there is no way to know for sure what will work for a particular audience until you test, but you need to start with some best practices in mind, which is what this article is talking about.

      Whatever audience you’re writing for, sticking to these principles — avoiding jargon and meaningless drivel etc — WILL communicate your ideas, benefits, value, etc, a lot more clearly and effectively.

  3. If you would feel uncomfortable reading your copy face to face to a client, your partner or a respected friend, then you need to change it.

  4. Megan says:

    Interesting post and lots of information to be mindful of when writing. I like these types of blogs because it helps keep us as writers on our toes and more critical of our work, and hopefully making us better writers in the long run. I’ve read/heard a few times now that words such as “state-of-the-art” and “cutting-edge” are meaningless and should not be used, does anyone have suggestions on what to use instead?

    • Ben says:

      I think sometimes those phrases (cutting-edge, state-of-the-art etc) do actually work for a lot of people. They don’t for me personally but “alleviate” for example is surely a valid English word so why not use it? It’s all very subjective.
      Good article though, as Megan says it helps keep us on our toes and thinking about what we’re writing and not just spouting rubbish!

    • Henneke says:

      New or “all-new” often work well plus a clear and concise explanation of why a feature or product is so special and how it makes the reader’s life better or easier. Being specific is a good anti-dote to gobbledygook.

      Glad you like the post, Megan.

  5. Andy Kuiper says:

    This article is not cutting edge, best in class, or all that innovative… It’s common sense, and we need a bit of that now and then. Thanks :-)

  6. John Redfield says:

    “Now I want to hear from you: What overused landing page copy irritates you most?”

    For me the instant turn off is the “squeeze page” landing. Maybe I am a bit jaded being an inbound marketing professional, but when I see that template, my reaction is I am looking at a bunch of hype that never gets to the point (how much!). It doesn’t matter to me what is on the page, and the kicker is, if I am interested I wont read all that dribble, but just scroll to the bottom in a few swipes to get the price. Copy? What copy? :)

    • Henneke says:

      Good copy invites you to read because it addresses your wishes and pain points. Dribble is uninteresting because it’s just filling up space.

  7. Adam Lefton says:

    Great tips. But has anyone pointed out that the CTA to download your eBook, and the landing page itself, breaks rule #11?

    • Henneke says:

      I’ve not been involved in writing Unbounce’s copy. It would be interesting to hear whether they’ve tested the book title.

    • Dan Levy says:

      Hey Adam, I’m Unbounce’s content strategist. Touché! :) I will say that we don’t take the word “ultimate” lightly. We really do try to create comprehensive, definitive marketing guides with our ebook content. That said, testing different (and perhaps more descriptive) ebook titles is a great idea!

  8. Sara says:

    I really don’t understand why it’s so difficult to explain to some, that customers really can tell when you’re selling something and treating them like idiots, especially internet users can detect that very easily. Speaking like you would in person is the best way of creating copy without being cheesy and overly braggy.

    • Henneke says:

      Yep, I totally agree with you, Sara. But somehow when we start writing the gobbledygook just sneaks in. Writing simple sentences is much harder than it seems.

  9. Loved this post! I’ve been trying to clean up my language on my posts. I like the way you divided the no-no’s into categories. Thanks so much for sharing this information. I don’t want my blog to sound like a television infomercial!

    All the best,
    Leslie

    • Henneke says:

      I always divide long lists into categories as it’s so much easier to digest for readers. Glad you enjoyed it, Leslie!

  10. Siva says:

    I really love the article.All the 5 parts you shared here are awesome..Thanks for sharing a valuable Article

  11. Well done as always, Henneke.

  12. Beth says:

    This is certainly relevant. I have been writing copy for a long time, and it’s always nice to read something that inspires me. I focus very hard on sounding “human,” as that is not as common as one would think! Only one criticism of the blog: your period should be inside the parentheses in the second sentence under part IV.

    • Henneke says:

      Yep, you’re right. Well spotted. Thank you.

      • Dennis says:

        Uhm, maybe it’s changed as I can’t see any parenthesis in part IV, but either way, I think where I’m reading it (England) it should be where it apparently was to start with, ie outside the parenthesis/speech-marks…
        And @Henneke, so nice to see someone accept their grammatical criticisms so gracefully :)
        PS If there are any such errors in this comment, please don’t bother to tell me ;)

  13. When writing copy, I try to put myself in my prospect’s head and speak their thoughts. It’s the Robert Collier principle of entering the conversation already going in your prospect’s mind (and heart).

    When you do that none of these words seem to show up.

  14. Brian Aldridge says:

    Very good article! One other “turn off” for me is the use of “gold standard”. Not many people know what that means. In any event, I took notes. Job well done, Henneke!

    • Henneke says:

      Yep, agreed. That’s another meaningless filler phrase. Thank you for commenting, Brian!

  15. I agree with what you have written. Many marketing copywriters just throw basic words/phrases out to take up space. Unfortunately, they don’t take the time to think of creative and informative copy to gain a reader’s attention. When I read copy that states “excellent customer service”, “highest quality”, or “guaranteed lowest prices”, I start to feel nauseous.

    • Henneke says:

      Yes, me too. But it’s hard work to write informative copy that addresses the reader’s pain points. Thank you for commenting, Mike.

  16. Dennis says:

    Henneke, I think this is one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time – thank you.

  17. FatManJoe says:

    Brilliant post. Very helpful. A commenter said, “Write like you talk.” This is great. I tend to be TOO PRECISE. It’s good to have a casual flow to your writing, otherwise it looks self-conscious or awkward.

    Very helpful article.

    • Henneke says:

      Yep, I’m a big fan of casual or conversational writing, too. Glad you enjoyed the article!

  18. Richard says:

    I am delighted to see another person who shares my disdain for the latest jargon “buzzwords”. They are stupid and useless, and do not convey a message. One of my personal dislikes is “taking your (business-blog-idea-whatever) to the next level”. Does anyone even know what that means. To say: take your business from 1k a month to 3k a month, has a meaning, the “next level” is just needless jargon.

  19. +1, Especially regarding “complicated jargon.” If we all start writing according to the lowest common denominator, we’ll end up as a civilization of dumb analphabets even faster. Complicated jargon exists for a reason and in most cases has developed through thousands of linguistic interactions between people attempting to communicate more efficiently. As the great Leo Buscaglia once said, we can only think what we can verbalize, so our vocabulary’s size and variety are our personal cognitive limit.
    Maybe readers could learn something constructive from new terms, once in a while.

  20. jason says:

    A couple months ago, I walked into a furniture store with my wife. We were on the hunt for a new mattress because our old one was a pain in the neck. A literal pain in the neck!

    Every morning I was waking up with a stiff neck and my body felt like someone had beaten me in my sleep.

    So one day we both decided it was time to throw out that hunk of junk and replace it.

    We open the door to the furniture row or whatever it’s called. And inside there are two guys throwing a football back and forth in the middle of the store.

    One took a quick glance at us, and then both scurried out of sight into the back of the store.

    I was confused. So was my wife, but we browsed through the store for about 20 minutes.

    Then we left.

    And we didn’t buy anything there.

    NO SALE.

    What’s the point?

    Why is this dude talking about buying a bed?

    Here’s why… You are telling me people don’t want to be sold to. You think people hate it when someone starts selling.

    What does this even mean?

    Do you think I would rather you pussy foot around what you have for sale? Or would I rather you just hide in the back of the store while I am walking around with cash in hand?

    I know what I want. I would want to know what’s in it for me. What is it? Why should I buy? What will I get from using it?

    I walk into Best Buy and I want the sales person to help me figure out which camera is better. Why is it better? How does it compare with this other one? But what I get is about 20 sales people walking around, talking to each other, pecking at computers and only a few are talking to customers.

    This hiding and dodging the sale is even more common on the Internet than it is in person.

    And I believe it comes from this useless drivel…

    …like this “nobody likes to be sold to”. It’s just bad advice.

    • Henneke says:

      What I meant was this: People don’t want to be sold to, but they do want to help to buy something.

      Sounds like we’re on the same page?

  21. Jeff says:

    Nice and concise is the way I love to read. The very words you mention above are stop words when I’m looking to buy. When I shop, I want to know what you’re selling, what will it do for me, is it a fair price, and finally is it easy to buy. Everything else I see as a waste of my time, which I value over any purchase.

  22. Leon says:

    I am so glad somebody is saying all of this. When I look at the landing pages or squeeze pages of the rank and file millionaire internet entrepreneurs that permeate the online space, then I feel I am the odd one out.
    I just don’t have either the energy or the mental stamina to read all of the same thing repeated over and over in a different way.

    And they violate all of the 17 rules you have just outlined.

    But, there are thousands of them doing it or, I think they are all doing it So it must work not so?

    • Henneke says:

      Or perhaps it’s laziness? Finding precise words and backing up your superlatives with facts is hard work.

  23. Debbie Short says:

    Interesting read….too many copywriters, try to include too many superfluous words.
    Ain’t nothing wrong with saying it like it’s been said before…..as long as it sold the last time, it will no doubt sell the next time too!

  24. Zak says:

    Thanks for the article. I would agree that some words are overused to the point that it makes readers sick. But also will agree with the comments, that it all depends on the audience. But it is always good to search for new ways to describe your product… Even is you say that you offer “average product” it might get great results, because it is intriguing

  25. I love this post! I actually laughed out loud at some of the examples. It’s a good reminder to do what I call ‘cut the fat’ and be direct. I feel like I am always removing unnecessary words from copy.

    • Henneke says:

      Yes, I know exactly what you’re saying. How can these unnecessary words sneak into my copy all the time? It’s like a constant battle.