Writing Gimmicks You Need To Stop Using

by | Nov 12, 2015 | GrammarSpot, Writing Tips | 0 comments

Earlier this week I was in the mall and walked by a sign that read, “Got Games?” If ever an eye roll was deserved, it was then. The “Got Milk?” campaign first came out in October 1993; that was 21 years ago, you guys. So why are we still seeing uninspired imitations of this slogan everywhere? It’s because using gimmicks is easy and requires less brainpower.

Most of you likely agree with that concept and get annoyed with unoriginal advertisements, but have you considered that many of the SEO articles you write are full of gimmicks as well? Let’s review a few of the most common dramatic writing devices:


You Are Probably so Confused

Oftentimes online content writers have to break down concepts in order to highlight a keyword. Perhaps this method of simplifying is what leads so many to take the “you’re probably so confused and/or stressed about this topic” approach. Here’s an example:

“Choosing the right haircut can be a stressful experience. You want to have a modern hairstyle, but you also want to consider a cut that will flatter your face shape. Beauty experts say that you can determine your face shape by measuring it, but that can be confusing.”

Unless you are talking about taxes, surgery or healthcare, please consider dropping this tactic. For most people, getting a haircut, buying a scarf and choosing a plumber are not inherently difficult processes. Stop forcing the confusion. When your approach is contrived, it can come across as being condescending.

And More

“And more” can be such a meaningless expression, yet it’s used constantly to puff up concepts. For example, we regularly see phrases like this:

“At Manny’s Motorsports, we are experts at repairing motorized vehicles, including motorcycles, quads, and more!”

The writer is attempting to convey that Manny’s Motorsports has experience fixing a wide range of motorized vehicles; however, the reader only leaves with the sure knowledge that Manny’s fixes motorcycles and quads. “And more” is completely ineffective when used in this way, and it can even be misleading in some instances.

Plus, phrases like that completely ignore the rule of parallel construction. That is, motorcycles + quads + more are not equal.


Don’t Be so Obvious

Another popular tactic is to make complete statements and then clarify them. Ex:

“GPS trackers can be used to keep every family member safe – from your grandma to your teenage son, and even your newborn baby!”

“Every family member” is as inclusive as you can get, so it’s unnecessary to list out all the kinsfolk who will be protected by GPS technology. Whenever I see content like this, it reminds me of a late night infomercial that’s trying to take up time with obvious explanations and constant repetition. I think for some people, writing in this way is part habit and part trying to beef up the word count. Whatever the reason, let’s work together to make it stop.

Stay Original

When writing SEO content, remember that being original (in every way) is important. It can be easy to turn to gimmicky ways of writing, but a unique approach is more interesting to the reader and more beneficial to the client.

What overused writing methods do you often see? Comment below!

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