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Great Design Won’t Mask Bad Writing

When it comes to launching your own website, don’t spare any expense when hiring a content writer. In the fast-paced, ever-changing world of the Internet quality writing is in demand. In the current climate of recession, online business owners can’t afford to ‘just get by.’ In order to remain competitive it’s important to have functional site design and relevant, informative content.

The best way to do this is to hire a professional writer; someone who can create content about a wide range of topics, understands SEO, and can get your business the attention it deserves. There are many reasons to consider hiring a web content writer. Maybe you’re too busy juggling marketing and website design to generate an article a day. Or, you’ve never been that great with words. Either way, an extra pair of hands surely wouldn’t hurt.

If you’re struggling, like so many others these days, you may not have the luxury of hired hands. In fact, you’re probably planning to write content yourself. Before you start you should become familiar with some web content writing basics.

Try not to use first person. It’s rare that you’ll meet a writer who tells you they’re a fan of the first person. Unless it’s an autobiography, a diary, or a testimonial, it has no place on your site. Content written in the first person sounds unprofessional and cheesy. Instead, write in the second person. That means a lot of you’s and your’s. When the website is representing your business you must become a salesperson, and though you want to avoid marketing jargon, you need to make sure you’re speaking directly to your audience.

Get to the point. There’s no need to be shy with your language. Give your audience firm, clear instructions such as, “Order now,” and “Read on.” Keep sentences short, ideally between 16-32 words. Readability research shows that longer sentences are harder for an audience to comprehend.

Keep paragraphs short, too. Try to limit one idea per paragraph. Typically you don’t want paragraphs to exceed seven lines. Use a newspaper article as an example.
 
Use one sentence paragraphs – they add variety and they’re punchy.

Sound natural. Ever heard of something called “voice?” In other words, write like you talk. People’s eyes are drawn to quotation marks and dialogue, “so make sure to throw some in.”

Keywords, keywords, keywords! Even the best writing cannot make up for a lack of good keywords and key phrases in website content.  One good keyword phrase can bring thousands of daily hits to your website. The quality of your web content really doesn’t matter if it’s never seen.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at a few examples of how not to write. These little gems should remind you of how not to write – ever! The excerpts come from the 2006 contest for the Funny, Terrible, Bad Opening Paragraphs Contest. These may not qualify as “web content,” but are hilarious nonetheless.

  • Lisa moved like a cat, not the kind of cat that moves with a slinky grace but more like the kind that always falls off the book shelf when he’s washing himself and then gets all mad at you like it’s your fault (which it wasn’t although it probably was kind of mean to laugh at him like that), although on the bright side, she hardly ever attacked Ricky’s toes in his sleep.
  • The nervous and untried exotic dancer seemed to cling protectively to her brass pole like the edge of a roll of plastic wrap when you are looking for the beginning of the roll and it seems like it’s healed up or melted into the rest of the wrap until finally you just give up and use foil or wax paper instead.
  • Her angry accusations burned Clyde like that first bite of a double cheese pizza, when the toppings slide off and sear that small elevation of the oral mucosa, just behind the front teeth, known as the incisive papilla, which is linked to the discriminatory function of the taste buds except, where Clyde was concerned, when it came to women.

Remember, web content writing is not about writing. In order to get people to your site, and ultimately sell your product, you need effective communication. That means clarity, conciseness, a convincing “voice,” and the use of keywords. Use these techniques when writing web content and you’re guaranteed to get results.

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