Certain words that are called power words, emotive words or trigger words all mean the same thing.
By whatever term, it is an ancient marketing tool to use phrases and words in your content that produce an emotional response.
You can almost imagine a stonemason in biblical times with an advertising stone outside his door saying, “buy nine tablets, get one free” or “your last chance to save.”
Nothing much has changed, even with the enormous advances in technology. From the chisel to the Internet, people are still emotive and react to certain powerful words and phrases more than others.
Trigger words in SEO content writing should not be confused with clickbait.
Most powerful words work because they are short, simple, everyday words that you include in a headline, article title or body text to add appeal. They are also highly effective in email subject lines.
Clickbait, on the other hand, is a phrase intended to attract and lure people. It rarely has much relevance to the content and is commonly used in email scams, phishing and hard-sell marketing.
In blog posts and content writing, Google is very good at differentiating between the two.
The difference between, “um yeah, okay” and “oh, this looks interesting.”
Whether it is an article on a blog, a sales page or a social media post, certain words and word combinations can produce a highly effective emotional trigger.
The most obvious word is free.
There is no need to conduct an expensive case study or prove what studies have shown to know that adding the word free to any product or noun creates immediate interest.
Free is used so much, especially in email marketing that I have not included it in my list of power words below.
But it is interesting to note that when free is used as an adjective to mean to act as one wishes or not under the control of another, it loses its effectiveness.
It is only when free is used as an adjective or adverb to mean without cost or payment that it has emotive marketing power.
Poor: Advice on how to improve old articles.
Fantastic: Free advice on how you can improve your old articles right now.
You might be a great writer, but when you create content, you want people to read it.
But attracting readers, and Google’s crawlers is not always guaranteed just because you write a brilliant 2,000-word article.
If you have a weak title or the first few sentences do not get directly to the point it will result in a poor Google SERP. (Search Engine Ranking Position)
A little re-writing can often make all the difference between an average post and a great post.
But pay attention and make sure you do a full grammar check when you add to and edit existing content.
You might only need to add some basic trigger words to your 2,000-word article because they can really help you improve your interest factor.
Nine of the most powerful trigger words
I could produce a great list of words with hundreds of emotive terms for you that are used in content marketing today.
Many marketers use them with a call to action, or to appeal to a specific target market. That is all too complicated for me.
I can recommend my favourite nine words because they can help you make your headlines and content more compelling, without much effort at all.
The examples below will show you how easy it is.
Without a doubt, you is the most powerful word in my list. Your is almost as powerful.
You can use it in your headlines, blog titles and your text. All you need to do is keep thinking you are helping someone.
If you get into the habit of writing in the second person, you will find that your content will find more readers and you will get more organic traffic.
Using you means that you are engaging your readers by talking to them directly, almost one on one.
If you write for you, you, you and not me, me, me, or I, I, I, you will notice a difference in a very short time.
Poor: My 20 ways to write better
Fantastic: 20 Ways you can make your writing the best
Never use ‘a’ or ‘an’ or ‘one’ when you can use the.
The is definitive and is not promoting a range of possibilities. The clarifies thinking and avoids confusion.
It is always used with the superlative, so it is natural to write the best, the worst or the happiest.
But you can use the to express that there is no better alternative or solution.
Poor: Here is one way you can improve your Google traffic
Fantastic: Here is the way to improve your Google traffic
No one wants anything that is difficult. It is as easy as that.
Never express difficulty as it is an immediate turnoff.
Give people easy ideas and options.
Poor: 10 Solutions for grammar problems
Fantastic: 10 Easy ways you can fix your grammar
It is a temptation to combine easy and simple. 10 easy and simple ways to use power words.
But sometimes, too much of a good thing is just too much. Use only one, and choose the best one depending on your context.
Poor: How to avoid using the passive voice
Fantastic: Simple ways to change the passive voice to make it active
Everyone wants more. It is a simple word that has a very strong emotional appeal.
All you need to do is add it where you want to express further or better, or that something is not yet completed or finished.
It can also be used to indicate expectation, as in, but wait, there is more to come.
More can also be used to extend the value of an existing article that is getting good traffic by writing a follow-up post. Five more reasons to by an iPhone.
Poor: How to increase your blog traffic
Fantastic: How you can get more blog traffic
An oldie but a goodie. Who reacts to words related to old ideas and remedies?
Anything that is new has much more appeal. If you are writing articles and content, you are producing something that is totally new, so there is no reason to stop you from saying so.
Poor: 5 Ideas for house training your puppy
Fantastic: Five new ideas for house training your new puppy
This word is a bit gimmicky, but used in moderation it has been proven to be successful when validating a premise or argument.
I do not use it very much at all, but when it is appropriate, it can help you create a sense of validated proof if you use it as an adjective and not a verb.
Poor: Useful ways you can use compost in your garden.
Fantastic: Proven practices for using compost in your garden
You can only use if in a conditional phrase. But conditional grammar structures can make for very long headlines and titles.
On top of that, conditionals can express vague ideas of a wish or dream, a possible future outcome, or a hypothetical past.
The best way to use if is only in the zero conditional form, which says that something is always true.
Compare: If I could write better I would get more readers. It is a wish, hope or dream.
With: If you write better, you get more readers. It is always going to happen.
Using a zero conditional is a great way to tell people what the result will be, and not what it could or would be.
Poor: What would you do if you wrote a bestselling novel?
Fantastic: If you write a bestselling novel, what do you do?
The word imagine solves the problem with if in long conditionals.
If you want to express a dream, wish or hope, imagine is quick and immediately connects with people’s imagination.
Used sparingly it can have a positive effect in articles that relate to holidays, retirement or investing for example.
Poor: Have you thought about going to Fiji for your next holiday?
Fantastic: Imagine lying on a beach in Fiji for your next holiday.
This is certainly not a definitive list of the best trigger words.
There are many that I could have included such as secret, superb, instant, convert or never to name just a few.
But my nine simple words are ones that you can use for almost any type of blog post or article. They are not at all restricted to content marketing articles.
The best thing about these nine simple words is that not only can you use them in your new articles and blog posts, but you can improve your old posts without much effort at all. It does not take a long time to add one word.
It is the easy and proven way you can get more traffic to your blog.
Imagine the difference it will make to your blog traffic and social media shares.
I started my working life as a lithographer and then spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of the Alps.
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