Once upon a time, copywriting was a gift. Talented writers used the power of language to transform undiscovered consumer needs into pure emotion, impossible to resist.

Copywriting has always found itself somewhere in the middle of blatant and brilliant

Kidding. Copywriting has always found itself somewhere in the middle of blatant and brilliant. In the past hundred years or so, we proved to be able to create anything: from artful ads to snail spam, from poetic films to dreadful catalogues. We married language to tricks, emotion to effect. And applied that to any medium we were able to get our manipulative mitts on.

The Internet added some clever technology to this brew, which helps us accomplish even more. With content marketing, commercial blogging, SEO copy and linkbuilding, smart people do very smart things. We know who people are, what they’ll click on – and what makes them click. We know every trick in the book. However, as with anything we like, we get carried away. May I present to you: the seven most annoying trends in online writing.

Has clicking on an overpromise ever changed your life?

1. Your Life Will Never Be The Same After Reading This Article

You Will Be Amazed to See What Happens When She Starts To Sing!

I didn’t expect this… but what you’ll see will blow your mind!

Has clicking on an overpromise ever changed your life? Probably not, but we just keep on clicking. Or as Jon Stewart told Vice: ‘When I look at the internet, I feel the same as when I’m walking through Coney Island. It’s like carnival barkers; they all sit there and go, ‘Come on in and see a three-legged man!’ So you walk in and it’s a guy with a crutch.’

2. Headlines Are Becoming Mini Selfhelp Books

Why Eating Carbs Will Make You More Successful – Today!

How Zombie Films Will Cure Your Fear Of Flying.

We all want to be better, healthier, more successful. So the web becomes one big, hastily written guiding book to perfection.

How Reading An Opportunistic Article Hardly Ever Makes You A Better, Healthier Or More Successful Person.

3. Headlines With Numbers In Them Are 32% More Effective

I have no idea if that’s true – I just made it up. It has to be, as you see it all the time:

The 8 Saddest Umbrellas In Sidney

17 Things You Should’t Think Of While Having Sex

3 Reasons Why Numbers In Headline Are Completely Random

And, continuing on that:

4. Everything Is A Top 5 Or Top 10 List

Even this one. Apparently our attention span is so short we need numbers to guide us. And because an uneven list works better, I’ll have to make up a crap addition in a minute.

There’s no denying it: we serve at the pleasure of Google

5. Content Pages Just For The Sake Of Google

There’s no denying it: we serve at the pleasure of Google. Therefore, we create web pages we actually don’t want to write, but can be scanned by Google, so we end up higher in its ranking. I understand it’s necessary. Sometimes, these pages become little gems of information, but more often they are just verbal diarrhoea. I could think of hundreds of Top 5 Lists explaining why it doesn’t have to be like that.

6. The Inappropriate Use Of Capitals

Seriously, Why Should Every Word Have Its Own Capital?

7. Gwyneth Paltrow

See, I had to make up a seventh one? Also: adding a well-known name might be good for Google.

This is not a plea for a webless world or a return to paper. Hell no. But when effect and result-greediness go over people’s heads, I weep a little (really). Google scans pages, but it’s people who actually read them. People who aren’t sets of data, but deserve to be taken seriously. We shouldn’t forget that.

You Will Be Amazed What Happens When You Sometimes Let Go Of All The Tricks You Know.

Not kidding.