5 Big Grammar Mistakes Common in Web Writing

As business writers, we create content for websites, blogs and intranet sites almost every day. This writing can be challenging because it’s more difficult to catch small mistakes on a computer screen than on a piece of paper. Yet, these mistakes are visible to all your readers, including employees, customers and potential clients, making you appear careless.

Your web writing is important, so make sure you avoid these common mistakes that destroy your credibility.

1. Loose vs. Lose (homonyms)

Wrong: We can’t loose this account.

Right: We can’t lose this account.

2. It’s vs. Its (homonyms)

Wrong: Bring the presentation, along with it’s adjoining documents.

Right: Bring the presentation, along with its adjoining documents.

3. They’re vs. Their vs. There (homonyms)

Wrong: The executive team is currently in they’re meeting.

Right: The executive team is currently in their meeting.

4. Effect vs. Affect

NOTE: In general, affect is a verb which means “to influence,” while effect is a noun which means “the result.” There are exceptions to this, such as “a happy affect” and “to effect change.”

Wrong: The work-life balance symposium has had many positive affects on our company’s culture.

Right: The work-life balance symposium has had many positive effects on our company’s culture.

5. Overuse of Ellipsis

NOTE: The ellipsis (” . . . “) is a series of marks that indicates the intentional omission of a word, phrase or section. The ellipsis also indicates an unfinished thought.

Web writing, especially blogs, use the ellipsis too frequently. Using the ellipsis to indicate an unfinished thought has great impact in fiction and poetry, such as portraying melancholy. However, they should be used sparingly in business writing. Frequent use of ellipsis makes the writer appear lazy or unable to finish a complete thought.

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Why worry about good writing for your website?

When creating (or redesigning) your business’ website, design and code are vital. You want to immediately impress and draw in visitors with your site’s punchy and professional appeal. But by focusing only on the site’s development, color scheme and fonts, the site won’t achieve the success you want. You must take the time to create  high-quality copy for every page.

Writing matters to website design and, ultimately, its success. Great copy makes your site better by:

1. Dividing information logically and intuitively

If the site’s information isn’t organized, it’s difficult to read. This means that visitors will leave before they are persuaded to buy your product or service. When the information is divided and distilled intuitively, visitors will want to read every page — and return again and again. These visitors are most likely to share your ideas with others or purchase what you’re selling.

2. Determining search engine optimization

Your copy influences its search engine optimization — and whether or not searchers can find the site. Without properly placed keywords, your site may be beautiful, but will not show up in search results.

3. Showing the reader who you are and how you do business

With great writing, you demonstrate to readers that you have a great attention to detail, know your business and have a professional attitude. Also, clear descriptions of your business’ services, products and mission will attract the best prospective clients.

4. Selling your products and ideas 

The site’s design and useability attract the visitor initially. The words are what seal the deal. With excellent, benefit-orientated writing, visitors will become promoters of your blog posts and business. Ultimately, the writing turns visitors into customers.

Good writing is vital for your site’s success. Make sure you are putting the time and effort into creating great copy. If you aren’t sure where to start or need help creating insightful content, be sure to hire an expert.

5 Reasons to Start that Internal Blog

Blogging is contributing to a conversation – a conversation that’s happening with or without your input. Internal blogs are platforms for thoughts, ideas and perspectives pertaining to vital conversations at your business.

Whether you’re a professional, supervisor or executive, you have an abundance of knowledge, information and experiences. Blogging benefits your business by allowing you to share your thoughts, ideas and perspectives easily. You can tell anecdotes, recommend an insightful book, offer tips or address pressing concerns.

While an internal blogs’ return on investment cannot be measured quantitatively, blogging benefits your business by:

  1. Increasing morale and engagement: Your employees and co-workers will appreciate your candid discussion of their concerns and questions. Use an upbeat and positive tone – your optimistic attitude will be infectious. By sharing your advice and experiences, you’ll promote collaboration and equip your readers to tackle similar challenges more easily.
  2. Creating a feeling of connectedness: Employees and co-workers throughout the world will read your posts, and contribute their thoughts by commenting. By addressing internal concerns, you’ll promote transparency and openness. Also, you can blog about the corporation’s long-term objectives and projects or relate the business’s work to important events and trends, giving employees insight into the importance of their contributions.
  3. Raising awareness and promote change: By blogging strategically, your message will grow stronger throughout the organization. For example, if you are an executive implementing a new sales strategy, dedicate your blog to outlining the strategy’s goals, tips for improving sales tactics or stories about individual employee’s experiences selling under the new strategy.
  4. Showcasing your business’ resources and opportunities: Promote your corporation or business internally by highlighting why it’s a great place to work, exciting new opportunities and resources for employees to leverage. Blogging is one of the best ways to strengthen your business’ brand internally, which bolsters how your customers perceive your brand.
  5. Keeping employees coming back for more: Insightful and thoughtful blog posts will peak readers’ interest, so they’ll want to keep coming back again and again. Over time, your blog will become a hub for important information, resources and conversation.

Internal blogs help businesses grow, fostering more productive and knowledgeable work environments. Give your blog the attention it deserves; high-quality content is vital for it’s success. If you aren’t sure where to start or need help creating insightful content, be sure to hire an expert.

Have you read a business’ internal blog that impressed you? What did you like most about it? What made it successful?

Keywords and Quality

website

Image via Wikipedia

Bob Bly – a successful copywriter and internet marketer – recently wrote a blog entry “Articles By the Pound” about the challenges of writing articles and content for websites.

Bly argues that instead of opting for keyword-intensive articles that are churned out quickly and inexpensively, website owners and internet marketers should insist on high-quality and interesting articles.

SEO, keyword development and search analytics are very important for ensuring that your website gets found. Without the right search terms, your website, intranet page or blog won’t ever get found by your readers.

However, when writers focus solely on keywords, the language seems forced and, often, generic. Your site may be found more often, but the readers probably aren’t impressed with your content.

How can you improve your website’s content quality and still get found? 

  • Develop an extensive bank of keywords and search terms. Aim for 250 words for an entire website and 50 words for an article. By having a larger bank of options, your keywords won’t be repeated over and over.
  • Write the site’s content WITHOUT looking at the keywords. Write interesting, well-organized articles that speak directly to your audience so they’ll keep coming back to your site for more. This type of writing takes skill and talent, so make sure that it’s valued.
  • Review the website’s copy and replace any words that have a keyword synonym.
  • Review the website’s copy once more and check that you have at least one or two keywords per paragraph. Every title should include a keyword, as well as the footer and page description.

To craft a readable, clear and highly interesting website, your top priority should be the content’s quality and your second priority the keywords. People will easily find your articles and site – plus, those who are seriously interested in your thoughts will be impressed by your knowledge, understanding of your audience and clarity!

Organizing your (Blog & Newsletter) Ideas

Evernote Screenshot

Image via Wikipedia

How do you come up with new ideas for your business’ blogs, newsletters, e-zines, intranet site or magazine articles?

If you’re like me, ideas sometimes pop into your head. Other times, reading an interesting article may provoke some ideas or topics that you want to write about. Then these ideas turn into articles, generating more and more ideas.

But how to remember all of them? How can you store all these ideas to write better and faster?

Here are a few of my favorite ways to organize ideas and concepts for my website, blog, e-zine:

1. Create a large mind map of what you want to write about. Organize around one central theme that your articles will discuss in detail. If your blog or e-zine focuses on improving the Work-Life balance, for example, you can break this topic down into sub-themes (exercise, stress relief, nutrition, prioritization, etc.), and then into article ideas. Mind maps are fun to create and great for focusing on the big picture.

2. A word document. A classic organization tool for a reason, word allows you to organize notes easily and keep tabs on the topics you’ve already written on. Write down larger concepts, then break them down into smaller ideas. Capture your title ideas and include a few key points that the article will discuss. I like to have one document dedicated entirely to ideas, but some people prefer having a folder filled with multiple documents.

3. Write on index cards. If you have great ideas while running errands or waiting for a meeting to start, try a portable method. I like writing on index cards (and filling out as many ideas as I can) and transferring them to my main idea folder when I’m back at my computer.

4. Use Evernote to save thought-provoking articles and sites. If articles, websites, blogs or online discussions inspire you, Evernote can help you store those great articles that you’d like to write about.

How about you? What’s your favorite method for organizing your ideas? How do you prevent that terrible feeling that you have no ideas?