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Whatever you call them;
whatever you want to call them;
whatever you fancy calling them;
These are the words that build emotion and spur into action.
These are the words that make a difference for the person reading; and for the person who wrote them (that’s you).
All you action takers and marketers out there, keep reading and don’t you dare QUIT on me now!
For this incredible guide’s about to unveil a secret treasure.
So valuable you won’t believe your unblinking eyes…
Table of Contents
What Are Power Words Exactly?
Power words are special words that can trigger either a negative or positive reaction in a person reading them.
Power words can make us feel:
Common characteristics of these words are:
Unique– they sound distinct compared to their indistinguishable brothers and sisters;
Action-Driven– you feel pumped with adrenaline before you even finished reading them;
Descriptive– they make you “see” what they say (for better or worse);
Inflammatory– they make you “feel” what they say (for better or worse);
Surprising– they have a power to elicit a GASP! from you.
However, not all power words have all of these qualities and most have one or two.
Ok, now that you know what they are and what they can do to the reader, let’s see how they can help you the marketer profit from knowing them.
Because after all:
there’s no greater vanity than knowing for the sake of knowing; and not for using the knowledge.
Note: I thought this was a (paraphrase) of a quote from Tolstoy. But when I searched for it, I couldn’t find it. If you do know it lemme know in the comment section waaaay below.
7 Crazy-Effective Types of Power Words Intelligent Copy Writers Keep Secret from You (Because They Don’t Crave Rising
Science says that when you’re angry you’re more likely to:
make bets you normally would not;
be more critical of others;
be less willing to listen to reason and reasons.
Anger is obviously bad for you as human being, but anger power words can help an honest marketer make a few sales more.
Because they can help you nudge people to do what you want them to do.
Take a look at this headline
All words that stir up emotions of anger.
Red Queen– “Annoying! Useless! Pretentious! Off With Their Heads”!
I read the article.
And it’s about useless jargon people use daily to think less, obfuscate meaning, and appear more intelligent than they are.
And the author’s got a point- these words have no place in modern day effective writing.
Now, imagine if instead of this being Forbes’s article, it was your article that you posted on yours site.
You wanted to show your readers what not to do and you achieved that beautifully by getting them extremely angry about these overused clichéd words.
And just as they were about to burst- you offered them a solution.
Did you know I offer a copy-writing course that will help you forever banish these symptoms of plain awful writing?
If you want to be, and I repeat IF, 10x more effective with your copy, then CLICK HERE to learn more!
Remember: the key with anger power words is that you don’t want them to be angry with your company or product;
but with someone else’s.
And ideally you can give them the solution to appease their oh-so-very-righteous anger.
Here’s a full list of 120+ anger power words:
Sick and Tired
Full of shit
High and Mighty
Know it all
Up to Here
#2- Fear Power Words
What is the most powerful way to grab and keep your audience’s attention?
It’s to dose them with fear.
Because all fear us underpinned by our fear for survival.
A basic instinct really, and a powerful magnetic force that pulls us to pay more attention, even when the rational part of the brain tells us there’s really nothing to fear.
Newspapers and tabloids exploit this to a great effect (the keyword here is EXPLOIT).
For example, I live in Serbia and here newspapers are filled with fear words like:
Corona virus (a newly emerged fear power word)
Just by looking at these you’d think world is hell and it’s a great misfortune to be born.
Of course, it isn’t so, but they do this stuff because it works.
Third and final example, here’s how Daily Mail does it on their internet edition:
I underlined fear words just for you, though I know you’re able to recognize them easily.
They’re the one’s that make your heart first skip a beat, and then pump faster than normal.
They’re the one’s that make you want to go home and hide under a blanket.
They’re the one’s that don’t make make us feel good, that make us feel ill.
So marketers, USE fear power words, but please- be gentle.
Here’s a master list of 126 fear power words.
#3- Safety Power Words
Feeling safe is what we all need and wish to have more of.
We all like to feel like we belong here. Like the universe is firmly on our side. Like the world came to be when we came to be.
Like the Sun comes out every day to make our days bright, sunny and successful.
We all want to feel safe and trust in the world that has a purpose, has a meaning and we’re integral part of both.
That is some deep psychology, but in copywriting as a skill, speaking to this desire means using safety power words to inspire the emotion of trust.
Because from trust comes ACTION.
For example, take a look how Ramit Sethi forces your to trust him. He saturates his copy with safe words till the brink of it being overbearing; and no doubt it works for him very well.
How do I know?
Because he keeps doing it on sales pages for all of his courses.
You almost feel bad for doubting and if you want to achieve the same effect here are 72 safety power words that can help you.
Above and beyond
That never fails
No questions asked
Try before you buy
No strings attached
#4- Lust Power Words
Sex really does sell.
You know it, I know it.
Your neighbor knows it.
Ahh, so this basically means we should “spice” up our copy wit dirty words and people won’t be able to glue themselves freom their screen.
They’d risk conjunctivitis rather than being pried away from one of humanity greatest joys, even when it’s just implied and painted (vividly) across the screen with our words.
So just add sex words a tonne, no?
Problems, puff, disappear, no?
I know when you hear the word “lust” you immediately think of that which must not be named (even though we mention it in the sentence above).
But actually, you can lust about anything.
Lust is just like a really strong desire about something and the only thing that prevents it from being a really strong desire is that where lust begins, reason ends.
Before I give you the ultimate list of words to drool over, here’s a screenshot from a known gossip tabloid
Can you spot lust words?
#5- Greed Power Words
“If you want people to buy something, stomp on their greed glands until they bleed”
We all want more than we have.
And we especially want more than others have.
Grid is baked into our subconscious mind and is impossible to fully escape from it, even if you’re a Hindu monk.
As a marketer you want to stump that greed gland (as put graphically by Gary Halbert) to get people to do what you want them to do.
Here’s an example from a bestselling book by Dave Ramsey:
See how he uses greed power words to excite you and MONEY is even capitalized, as if it doesn’t stand out already.
And here’s a list of 112 greed power words that I’ve been saving just for you.
These will make you rich:-)
Don't miss out
While they last
At the top
Ahead of the game
#6- Encouragement Power Words
People online are like hungry wolves.
They’re are like hungry wolves in the middle of cold winter.
Only a persistent, gnawing pain of hunger.
They forage for info; they DON’T CARE about you or your writing.
They require information to feed their problems with a solution.
So, they’re hungry, depressed and low on energy. You need to reinvigorate them
Can you do it and how?
Yes. With encouragement words.
These are the words that put the spring back into our step.
They’re the ones that can quickly bring back the wandering attention to your words, so you can easily convey what you want them to do.
Here’s how Steve Pavlina does it at the end of his blog posts.
Don’t know about you, but these all get me pumped to get going and shift my life from scarcity to abundance, starting NOW!
Here’s a list to empower your readers to take action. They’re so powerful that it’s an amateur blogging mistake not to use them to your advantage.
#7- Forbidden Power Words
When you’re forbidden to do something, you want nothing else but to do it.
When you’re forbidden to have something, you want nothing else but to posses it.
It is human nature to be attracted to what we don’t or can’t have, and as a marketer you can tap into that emotion.
And it’s quite easy too.
It’s because people think grass is always greener on the other side and that there’s always some big secret that only if they knew it- all the problems would turn to vapor and be gone.
For example, take a look at how Tim Soulo, a chief content officer at Ahrefs, teases you with his headline about long tail keywords.
I read the piece and it’s excellent.
But let me tell you a dirty little secret (you need to know THIS)- there is no secret.
It’s just clever copywriting from the guys at Ahrefs.
Never seen before
off the record
Behind the Scenes
Be the first
Be an insider
On the QT
Cloak and dagger
Tried to hide
From the vault
Under the table
Ok, we’re inot the good stuff now.
Next you’ll learn how to actually use these words to boos your pretty much everything.
From SEO and social media to branding and awareness, to making more sales and building a brand.
How to use power words for On-page SEO
On page SEO is crucial for sending relevancy signals to Google and explaining to them what your page is really about. And though there are many content writing tools for SEO designed to make your life easier, it pays to take some time and do things manually, especially for your crucial posts.
The power words there are “free” “trial” “no credit card”.
It’s a true click magnet.
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar”
Especially with the ever shrinking attention span. You need something that will shock them and pull the from lethargy into excitement and action.
That something is power words, and more specifically- using power words in your headlines since it’s the first thing readers see as soon as your page pops into view.
Writing effective headlines is both an art and a science, and i could drone about it all day long- but I won’t.
I stead, here are some actionable tips to get you started:
You have ample space. Be wordy and say what you want to say and how you want to say it
Use your target keyword. Good for SEO but also for readers as they’ll quickly realize they’re in the right place.
Promise them a tangible benefit if they read the post
Use Power words
Kevin Duncan’s post on free blogging platforms has a headline with 3 power words in it:
And here’s my headline for this post:
You can see that it’s longish, has my target keyword, promises a key benefit and includes 5 power words
Learn How to Write Awesome Headlines (Even if You’ve Never Written One in Your Life)
Now I have years of experience in internet marketing (still so much to learn though) and I know how to write good headlines.
But what if you’re just starting out?
Are you doomed to live with lousy headlines people regret clicking on?
But you do need to use some beginner tools to help you.
And I have two awesome 🙂 tools for you:
#1- CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
CoSchedule offers a free tool to create better headlines.
You simply need to input your desired headline and the tool will give you a grade and suggestions for improvements.
Here’s the score for the headline of Jon Morrow’s classic post about power words:
One of the best things about CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer is the ability to run as many potential headlines as you need.
The system saves your previous headlines and this helps you improve, and then improve upon improvement till you’re satisfied.
#2- EMV Headline Analyzer
This tool is also awesome.
Simply enter your headline and it will give you the emotional score which you can then work to improve on.
My score for the headline for this post is 64.71%, which is really decent.
Subheading are a natural way for you to break apart your posts and make them more digestible to the hurrying eye that scans.
However, you don’t want people to be hurry too much;
and you don’t want them to scan and then just leave.
That kinda defeats the purpose of it all.
You want them to stay.
You wish them to buy.
The easiest way to stop stop them in their track is with power words in your subheadlines.
This is because subheadings stand out from the surrounding text and since they are not images which can be glanced over, the eye has to stop to read, and once it encounters your carefully deployed words…
Take a look at a subheading for this very post. I purposely stuffed power word in there to see how far I can take it without it looking too painful to read.
And I think I hit the edge and stopped there 😛
d) Meta Descriptions
Ok, meta descriptions are a surefire way to increase CTR.
Here’s a study that shows how optimized meta description drew in significantly more clicks compared to no meta descriptions.
Now the rules of writing good meat descriptions stay the same:
less than 180 characters
include your keyword
have a curiosity gap/ or be clear with what they’ll get/lose
include a power word
Here’s an example from this post:
Note: When writing your meta descriptions I suggest you use the awesome Portent SEO tool.
It’s because it gives you a superior overview of how your listing will look in the SERP’s once it’s live and ranking #1 😎
Pro tip: Also include a power word. Thise get bolded in the SERP which only boosts your CTR further.
Your intro is the most important part of your post, a place where the golden rule of copywriting (Golden Rule states: the objective of the first sentence is to get the second sentence read. The objective of the second sentence is to get the third sentence read…) holds true the most.
Because if people don’t read your intro they sure as heck won’t read the rest of the post.
To achieve the results you want (which is readers devouring your piece) you need to use use power words in your intro and ideally those should complement the power words you used in your headline.
Take a look at how I did it for this post
Ok,, this is pretty basic stuff but nonetheless important.
if you’re going to have links on the page, you will obviously want to get them clicked, right? (with the exception maybe of outbound links)
So that leaves us with internal links and affiliate links, and the easiest way to boost your link CTR is by making the anchor longer and by including a power word or two.
For example, Jooble’s “jobs in USA” page has links to all job openings across the major US cities. However, their links look pretty bland and boring with just the city name, state, and the number of job openings beneath it. They could spruce up those links with power words and get an average higher CTR.
This would easily result in more profit for them down the line.
For example, if I use a short anchor text like HostGator Black Friday, “Black Friday” there is the power phrase because it implies huge savings for a limited time only i.e., high pressure and urgency.
Yes, it’s long but that’s the point. It also includes three power words (can you spot them?) and is overall going to get a much higher CTR.
Power words can make your affiliate links much clickable and they can also help with internal links CTR which then boosts your site’s overall SEO performance.
Pinterest is a visual platform that’s perfect for adding highly visible power words to your pins.
Here’s how Greg Konnenko, a known Pinterest expert, does it with his pins.
Noting more to add here.
Just learn from the best!
With Facebook marketing, you want to be really targeted with where you promote your stuff. Your best bet are Facebook groups.
For example my friend Navin Rao runs his Facebook group
And that group has an official blog promotion day.
Here’s how I promoted one of my articles there:
These are perfect for spreading the word about your new post because everyone who participates is required to support other bloggers too, so you could get dozens, sometimes hundreds of early visitors very early on.
Facebook ads are cheap and you could use power word to compel people to give you their click.
Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about advertising on Facebook.
So I won’t waste your time or worse, pull advice out of my ass and give it to you hoping it doesn’t cause too much damage to your business.
e) Social Locker Plugins
Social locker plugins are awesome little things that help you get more traffic flowing to your site over the long haul.
They keep parts of your content hidden and for someone to access it they need to pay the toll by sharing the article with their audience.
Very clever because each person that shares potentially brings in a handful of others and then they might share too…
And all happens passively, which is just beautiful.
Now, to entice folks to unlock the content you need two things:
One awesome bait, highly relevant to the post they’re on and something they’ll want to check out no matter what
Power words to DESTROY any resistance they might harbor to sharing.
Here’s how my friend Enstine Muki does it on his blog post about making money with guest posting.
Wanna see it all?
Then you have to pay the price 😉
#3- How to Use Power Words to Get More Email Subscribers
Sometimes, getting more traffic means nothing more than keeping the traffic that’s already on your site.
What do I mean?
Take you website’s homepage for example.
Perhaps it’s a welcome mat for your new visitors.
Or maybe you use it to get new email subscribers;
Or maybe you’re doing your best to funnel people deeper into the site. (this is the what I do as my homepage is a list of blog post I recently published).
But, whatever the homepage’s purpose, it needs to capture people so they stay and don’t click the dreaded back button.
With smart power words usage of course!
And with you informing the visitor (who probably never heard of your brand before)- what’s in it for them.
Here’s how NerdFitness does it with their homepage:
Their home page tells you quickly whether you found your new online home or not.
“Nerds,” “Misfits,” and “Mutants” are all unusual and powerful words that speak directly to the hearst and minds of nerds, misfits and mutants who want to lose weight, get stronger and have fun while doing it.
Plus this strong USP work wonderfully to segment NerdFitness into its own little corner, with they dominate with ease by the way.
b) Locked Content
Hat tip to Brian Dean for this one.
if you head over to Baclinko you will see that on his blogroll some posts look like this:
i.e. they’re FOR SUBSCRIBERS ONLY.
But you can still get a glimpse on what the page is about which is also a teaser to hand over your email.
(And take a look at that mass of power words. Psst! I don’t think that’s an accident)
Nicely done Brian,
I think I’ll steal that one 😎
c) Author Bio Boxes
Author bios have a difficult task of convincing people to click on your website link or subscribe to your email list.
And if you’re a kind of person that think glass is half empty, I can almost hear you saying:
“Author bios! Bah! Humbug! (Don’t be a blogging Scrooge).
I only have 3 lines to work with here. I need to say who I am; what I do; my website’s link; my profile links…
There no room for any power words!
But if you’re a person who think the glass is half full, you will say
Hey! I only have 3 lines to work with.
Then even one power word will exert its magic simply because it’ll be unavoidable.
That’s the way to think and you don’t even need to include just one power word.
You can use several.
Here’s Henneke Duistermaat wrote her author bio for CopyBlogger:
D) Opt in Boxes
Opt-in boxes in the right sidebar are one of the easiest ways to get new subscribers.
Everyone and their mom know it which means this tactic is overused and people have developed “sidebar opt-in blindness”
What’s the solution?
The solution is to include power words because they make the blind man see.
Here’s how CopyBlogger used to do it in 2017:
I used the Wayback Machine to pull it out of their archives.
I have no idea why they removed that optin.
It was so powerful because it had 3 power words clustered in such a small a space; and it was well done and not at all overbearing.
Now, I know this is not an optin per se but clicking the banner lead to a landing page where you could subscribe.
Next, here’s how Eb Gargano does it on her blog post about ways to be more productive blogger.
At the end of a that post there’s a way for you to easily opt in to her list and in return you get a free, step-by-step guide that will help you blog smarter, and not harder.
Popups are a favorite tool among all experienced list builders.
And there’s an excellent reason why- they work!
Even a bad pop-up can help you grow your list over time.
And the good one?
it can help you explode it fast.
What are some things that can make a popup super effective?
There’s too many to mention here, but in the context of this page, it’s power words.
This image shows you the result of a test that happened way back in 1970’s.
So, researcher (Ellen Langer) wanted to test how people waiting in a line to use a photocopier would react to a person who tried to cut the line.
So they had three scenario.
In the first the person said:
“Excuse me, I have 5 pages May I use the Xerox machine”
This polite request got them 60% success rate
The second time the person said:
“Excuse me, may I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”
Now, this is a pretty lame excuse because anyone who’s ever been in any kind of a long line will tell you that they too were in a rush and NO, no one let them cut.
So, what happened?
Well, you saw the image so you know but a staggering 94% of people let them pass. That’s the power of because.
Finally, in the third scenario, the person said:
Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies?
This silly and weak reason, but accompanied by immensely strong bodyguard (because), still had a 93% success rate.
Mind-boggling when you consider it.
Use because liberally.
Because I said so!
We all welcome novelty in our lives. And we all like new products and services, Something we’ve never seen before.
Be it because we want to be entertained; or because we want to stave off boredom and ennui of day-to-day existence,
Or because we genuinely need some new and better products to improve the quality of our lives.
As a marketer writing sales copy it’s your job to subtly instill excitement for the new product you’re describing and also to convey how these new features are a game changer from what came before.
Despite science having proven that knowing how to delay gratification is a necessary trait/skill for long term success… we all want things yesterday.
And if we can’t have them yesterday, we want them NOW!
Appease this need for speed by including instantly in your copy along with his brothers:
in the next hour
Free is such a ubiquitous work that you’d think it has gone out of style long time ago, but no it’s still there among the top 5 strongest words in the English language.
Here’s an interesting experiment for you to know that allure of free
Dan Ariely revealed the power of free in his book Predictably Irrational, where he examined a very unusual “battle” between Lindt chocolate truffles and Hershey Kisses.
The test was for people to study the value of a 1c Hershey’s Kiss vs a 15c Lindt truffle (much higher quality chocolate)
In the first scenario here’s how people chose:
So they recognized that Lindt truffle is half it’s usual price and found it a good catch of the day.
In the next scenario they lowered the price of both chocolates for 1c each.
Hershey’s Kiss was now free while Lindt cost 14c
And what do you think happen?
The irrational thing of course.
as soon as Hershey’s went free it became irresistible to X% of people.
That is the power of free.
b) David Ogilvy’s Famous 20. What Are the Words Deemed Most Powerful In the English Language?
In 1963 the famous advertising guru David Ogilvy came out with his list of 20 words he found to be the most persuasive in the English language.
Here’s the list below, and even though it’s almost sixty years vintage, the words there still pack a mighty punch with the people today.
c) This is Quite a List. Should I Try to Use all Power Words in My Copy?
While all these power words are proven to work, context mattes a lot
Take a look at the speech by the man himself Winston Churchill (I’ve underlined the power words)
“We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstroustyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”
These are the words suitable when you’re going to war, but not so much when you’re trying to sell a holiday vacation to your visitor and they’re taking the kids with them.
d) If a Power Word Has a Synonym, Should I Use a Simpler Word?
In general, yes.
When writing online simplicity is key as you always want to be clear with your words and you always want to avoid at trying to dazzle your audience with the voluminous and voluptuousness of your vocabulary.
And no, they do net need to know how cerebral you can be 😉
The thing is, people reading online are like wolves hunting for food.
They don’t care about you they don’t care that you wrote something as long as you can feed them.
And clear writing and simpler power words are the way to go.
However, there are exceptions.
“Cheap” and “inexpensive” are both power words and they are synonyms.
But you really shouldn’t use cheap because it carries the connotation of “not high enough quality”.
e) I Need a Quote About the Amazing Power of Words. And I’m in a Hurry! Have One?
I have eleven.
“Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some that don’t mean much to you, may stick with someone else for a lifetime.” -Rachel Wolchin
“Words are free. It’s how you use them that may cost you.” -KushandWizdom
“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” -Rumi
“The secret of being boring is to say everything.” -Voltaire I like this one 😀
“One kind word can change someone’s entire day.” -Unknown
“Be careful what you say. You can say something hurtful in ten seconds, but ten years later, the wounds are still there.” -Joel Osteen
“Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day.” -Unknown
“Don’t ever diminish the power of words. Words move hearts and hearts move limbs.” -Hamza Yusuf
“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” -Edgar Allan Poe
“Kind words are a creative force, a power that concurs in the building up of all that is good, and energy that showers blessings upon the world.” -Lawrence G. Lovasik
“Your words have power. Speak words that are kind, loving, positive, uplifting, encouraging, and life-giving.” -Unknown
“The tongue has no bones, but is strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words.” -Unknown
I actually gave you twelve wisdom tidbits.
No need to thank me.
f) Do Power Words Change Meaning Based on Context?
They sure do.
Many words in the English language change their meaning depending on the content they’re used in.
“”Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like bananas- Grucho Marx”.
Power words are not an exception.
What’s the solution?
The solution is to get educated. I’m not a native speaker and I hired a tutor from Preply to help me. And it did help me tremendously in mastering the subtle nuances of the English language.
They can help you too.
If you can’t afford it, then self educate yourself by reading, A LOT. Over time you will pick up on the words that change their meanings based on the context they find themselves in,
g) Can I Use AI Tools like Jasper AI, Quillbot, Grammarly and Hemingway App to Write Powerful Copy?
Jasper AI is a GTP-3-powered AI software that creates human-like copy in an instant. The quality of content is high, but you will need to do some editing as well. And if you want the copy it delivers to be full with power words, then you will have to manually insert those key phrases, or you can just set the Jasper AI writing tone to “excited”. Learn more about Jasper in my Jasper AI review.
As for Quillbot, it is a content summarizing and paraphrasing tool, so my advice is to find existing content online that has the power words you need, then use Quillbot to rephrase it, and then just keep the power words intact, or replace them with close synonyms. Read my Quillbot review to learn more!
As for Grammarly and Hemingway App, these tools can’t create content for you, but they let you check it for grammar, spelling and writing style errors.
It’s hard to stand out in this crowded digital world. There’s so much competition already and that number is ever on the rise.
What’s the solution then?
Of course not! But you knew that already 😀
And I also think you already know what the solution is. I mean, why else would you be reading my power words master guide?
Yes, the answer is to use language smarter so you can get your message across better and overshadow those that use plain and boring language to try to convince and convert.
Power words VS weak words.
That’s for you to tell me, in the
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