When redundant words backfire Being snowed in and working long hours, I sometimes find my attention drifting a bit.

Some would do Sudoku or check Facebook for a break. But I’ve been collecting redundant marketing phrases from press releases, white papers and interviews.

As an old-line obnoxious editor, I’d normally say you should ruthlessly eliminate any extra words to keep your marketing copy sharp and keep readers’ attention. The most memorable marketing phrases are, after all, short and simple.

This is truer than ever these days, when not only are buyers multitasking at work, but texting and updating Facebook while watching TV. It would seem that the only way to reach them is with quick, very precise and to the point messages.

Enter SEO

But before a buyer even glances at your pitch, they have to find it (or have it sent to them). That means search engine optimization, which means repeating the terms that will steer them to your wonderful copy.

This quandary came up for me the other day when I was doing a blog post for CA Technologies Innovation Today blog where, of course, the magic word is “innovation.” I found myself the words “new, innovative applications” and realized that, of course, is something is innovative it must be new. Using unnecessary words strikes me as a mortal sin, but in this case would let me slip in the word “innovation” an extra time for SEO purposes.

I couldn’t bring myself to say “new, innovative applications” so I axed the word “innovative” because it was already stuffed into the text enough for SEO purposes. My approach is to, yes, make sure you use your SEO-friendly keywords every chance you get, but do it properly and in context – not to the point of obnoxiousness. That will make your copy read less awkwardly, and won’t get dinged by search algorithms that are constantly tweaked to tune out mindless keyword stuffing.

Hall of Shame

Having gotten that off my chest, here’s my list of recent offenders drawn from actual content that’s crossed my screen recently. Add your own, and maybe we can submit them to Microsoft for use in a future “tautology ticker” in future versions of Word. I’m also curious to hear any recent insights into where to draw the line between appropriate and counter-productive keyword repletion.“New innovation.”

  • “Already begun.”
  • “Effective solution.”
  • “Originally established/first begun”
  • “Finally finished/eventually finished”
  • “Top-line revenue/bottom-line profits”
  • “Span across”
  •  “
  • Expectations for the future”
  •  “
  • Total” as in “30% reduction in total costs.” (“%” by definition is a portion of the whole)
  • “Its own captive retail stores.” (Who else would own their captive stores?)
  • “Its own logistics and transportation system for distribution.” (See above.)

Let me know your least favorite tautologies and your latest thoughts on SEO. And if you need help fine-tuning blog posts, white papers, email newsletters, Web sites and any other IT marketing content, email me or call 781 599-3262.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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Filed under: Content Marketing For IT VendorsPR/Marketing Writing Tips

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