Web Content Writing: 10 Misconceptions

1. More words, detail, information explains best

Web content writing has its own format that is different from the conventional writing style we all learned in school. It’s focus is winning and maintaining the attention of the impatient Web reader.

Big, chunky paragraphs of 50 to 80+ words may cover a lot of subjects and detail but they tax the reader’s attention span. That’s because  online readers “skim and scan” websites-blogs text quickly, seeking out what is of interest.

Of note, screens are read 25% slower than printed text so efficient, meaningful writing is vital. Studies show a 62% increase in readability if the text is written in concise fashion. (Source: Nielsen Norman Group.)

Not determining which details are best left out leads to information overload as Web readers are notoriously impatient. A home page, in particular, has 10 seconds to capture interest. (Source: Nielsen Norman Group). So, if points aren’t covered in efficient fashion or at all, or if the passage is too muddy (too many commas – or too few, ramble-on sentences) readers click elsewhere.

2) Fewer words equates to lower web content writing fees

On the Web, it’s quality over quantity, due to the impatience factor. Writing concisely, also known as ‘Web-style,’ is a time-consuming process as word economy is the priority. The most appropriate words and headings serve to capture the reader’s attention and guide them through the site towards the ultimate goal: a reader contacting the company, organization, or client.

A finished Website represents all discussions-interviews and research. Words must literally “fight” to remain on the page. Less is more. Web pages with 300 words on them are actually worth about 700-800 words written in conventional style.

“Sorry for the letter, I didn’t have time to write a postcard.”

George Bernard Shaw

3. “I’m a good writer” or “We’ll write our site-blog post ourselves.”

With the best of intentions, people set out to get their website done quickly and inexpensively. However, since they were trained in school-taught conventional style, the text will not be formatted properly.

Other common mistakes waste valuable attention such as:

  • Well-meaning salutations like “Welcome to our site”
  • Frequent mentions of the company name (called a company-centric approach), and
  • Numerical listings of services and vehicles instead of identifying what customer problems are solved

If the site is written by the website owner, they are often too close to the subject matter to be objective. They may end up telling a story instead of making a business case for a reader’s attention and possible purchase.

Website or digital agency copywriters have better writers; however, unless the proper type of research (market-company) and thinking is done, their work will lack specifics. The client company will be described but not defined.

4. “Lifting” or borrowing text from other sites is fine

‘Forgetting, briefly, that doing so infringes upon copyright laws, ‘transplanted’ text gives your writing and the site an uneven feel, which creates mistrust. All sites have personalities, as defined by their voice (words and style). Mixing in different styles distracts the reader and slows down comprehension.

Oh and …..then there’s what search engines think of “duplicate content”: they don’t like it one bit and will penalize the content thief by banishing that site from its listings for ….a while. Meaning, your site won’t be found on Google search – and likely other search engines’ listings.  

Finally, if anyone discovers duplicate content or copied text on your site, your company’s reputation will take a hit. Is it worth it? No.

5. Search engine optimization (SEO): just for larger companies?

Your website resides on the Web but unless it is catalogued to be found by search engines such as Google and Yahoo, it won’t be. ‘Just like a book with “call letters” inscribed on its spine, a website or blog post must be described in certain ways to be found. This is called optimization.

There’s on-page and off-page optimization. On-page refers to what can be done to specific web pages to be more readily found. Off-page refers to what can be done on the Web to increase find-ability.

Some degree of optimization is critical; otherwise, unless your site address is specifically typed into the address bar, it floats – unknown – in the Web space of billions of sites.

If a good effort and money is spent on search engine optimization (SEO), your site will get ranked in Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. search engine ranking pages (SERP). And by that, I mean on page 1 or page 2 where people usually focus their time. Result: your chances of getting Internet-sourced leads rises exponentially.

At the very least, websites and their pages should have Meta Tags such as Title and Description.

Giving each page a (Meta) Title communicates what the page is called and what type of content will be found on it. The (Meta) Description of each page or blog post describes the subject matter or purpose of the page.

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6. Writing is writing, regardless of writer’s experience or background

Good web content writing requires: 1) Superior thinking skills, and 2) Working knowledge of sales and marketing.

Ideas, analysis, debating, decisions

Of the former, Web content writing guru Gerry McGovern says:

“You can’t have great Web content writing without great thinking. Content is really thinking written down. Thinking involves questions such as: What do I want readers to do with this content? Read it, believe it, trust it, download it or refer to a link. Who is the audience or who is it for? What’s the best way to write about it?”

Killer Web Content, 2006

All these questions require consideration which cannot be rushed. In a hurry? Count on having to get a 2nd site or blog post done and having to spend a lot more money to produce it.

If you’re considering a web content writer, check their past work and review the thinking processes outlined above.

On the sales and marketing front, working knowledge will be illustrated by: intelligent business questions; having a writing process; and awareness of what these terms mean: value proposition, value-adds, differentiators, benefit statements, features vs. benefits.

All of these figure into the business web content writing. Sales and marketing experience would provide an understanding of marketing principles and a critical appraisal of features-benefits, and drawbacks of a product-service. And an understanding of how to overcome possible negative perceptions.

Errors in thinking, oversights, and ignorance of business priorities, from a customer’s perspective, decreases trust. In short, if the client isn’t being asked business questions, they won’t be getting business writing.

In closing, effective business web content writing engages your audience, defines your value proposition, builds trust, supports your price, and promotes your service.

7) Website-blog must be designed first

Because web design is a skill yet unknown to the majority of people, it’s intimidating. Which is why web design is often given priority and it is often done first before the words are even considered.

The drawbacks to this approach are numerous:

  • Content creation requires research and brainstorming where many ideas are dreamt up, discarded, kept, refined – then adapted. Approaches to the subjects require thinking, analysis, debating and finally, decision-making
  • If and when the content is finished, it may have to be modified; however, if the website shell is already completed, the words may not fit into the space provided
  • Efforts to reduce word count may rob the sentences of meaning
  • Re-coding may have to be done to deal with updated approaches (photos, written work, new products-services, etc.) and the site’s design may “break” in the process.

Remember: the coding represents the site’s structure and whatever fits inside the spaces provided. For all these reasons, the writing of the text-content gets done first. There’s also the content strategy to consider, as in what goes on what page, how it’s handled and why.

A site’s design and colours enhances your marketing message but does not express it. Best thing to do? Sit down with a marketing-savvy content-copywriter and discuss your company, marketing plan, and Web ambitions – before the web design work is done.

8) Web content writing should just answer questions

Some people aren’t exactly sure what they’re looking for when they arrive at your site; they seek direction. Your site should be organized in a manner that mimics how your prospective customers think and provide the type of information they’re interested in.

Newsletters, blog articles discussing applications for your products and services, situational and/or customer histories, case studies, etc. provide helpful context. People gain a more accurate perspective of your company – and why they should buy from you.

9) Writing with the company’s interests in mind sells the company

On the Internet, the site visitor, or sales prospect, is the one being catered to. A promotional writing style that praises your company may work for brochures or proposals, but it alienates Internet audiences. A flat, informative style that obeys Internet content rules and directs the user works best.

People come to web sites to learn something and aren’t certain of your motives, thinking style, or ability to communicate. Using a promotional will style creates cynical mistrust and readers will likely click away. In general, people are saturated with advertising. When they arrive at a web site, blog, etc., their expectations are explicit and impatient in nature.

10) Write the once and the it’s done forever!

Imagine you’re operating a 24-7 store on a competitive block or at a busy mall with lots of choice, where customers are fickle and demanding. Would your window displays remain the same for months? Doubtful; you’d soon realize that variety and novelty generate interest and engagement. Your site runs along the same principle, only the “attraction” is the content (words, photos, videos, downloads, blog posts).

Regular updates driven by an agreed-upon content strategy reinforce that your company is a going concern, encouraging additional visits. Plus, when your product line gets an upgrade, you’ll want to showcase it somewhere on your site.

Do yourself a favour and spend the time and money to hire a professional web copywriter and/or content writer. A consistent writing style authored by the same person gives your site an identifiable voice-personality.

Providing this person understands your target market and how to create an appropriate tone, etc. visitors will understand your value proposition (reasons why people would choose your company over another even though your products and services are similar) and remain on-site longer. Result: Your words get read and your return-on-investment (ROI) is stronger.  

Walking for Fitness, Mindfulness, and Creativity

Walking is an activity most people overlook as a worthwhile exercise, yet it is one of the easiest and most effective; it’s also an unheard-of method of unlocking your inner genius and boosting your creativity.

When the subject of improving one’s fitness comes up, taking cardio classes or joining a gym usually get mentioned first; and often, they are one of the same. Gyms offer many fitness classes-options such as aerobics, strength training, cycling, treadmills, elliptical trainers, martial arts, and in well-ventilated spaces.

However, there are significant drawbacks:

  • Monthly fees

Monthly dues, annual fees, and start-up costs  are typical. Then, add in the cost of fitness classes which may be extra – if they’re not booked up. Count on $30 to $50+ monthly.

This may sound all well and fine until one considers that a great many Canadians are under severe debt pressure. Another (unnecessary) expense may subtract from priority responsibilities like debt repayment, food, or lodging.

But how to stay in shape? Walk for cardio and work your muscles with resistance bands which are just as, or more effective, than machines and barbells. They’re way cheaper, too. Check out 33 Resistance Band Exercises You Can Do Literally Anywhere. Where to find? Amazon, for one.

  • Cost of Driving to the Gym

Not usually considered, but fuel economy is worse when an engine is cold. Short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much gas than a multipurpose trip covering same distance. This past October 31 in a Toronto, Canada suburb, gas was $1.15/liter or $5.44 per gallon (4.54 liters) Source: GasBuddy.com. These figures add to the cost of gym membership on a day-to-day basis.

  • Present Level of Fitness

If you’ve been living a mostly inactive life-in this Age of the Screen-your level of fitness is apt to be quite low: muscle flexibility lacking, posture poor, overweight, and taxing stair climbs that leave you huffing-and-puffing. Combined, or even on their own, these factors increase the likelihood of getting injured.

Sitting: The New Cancer?

The habit that most contributes to ‘being out of shape’ is sitting. According to a Mayo Clinic study, people who sat for more than 8 hours a day, with no physical activity, had risk factors of dying similar to obesity and smoking; specifically, habitual long-term sitting leads to the formation of several health conditions that make up Metabolic Syndrome:

  • Obesity
  • Increased blood pressure
  • High blood sugar (due to not being absorbed by muscles during any type of exercise)
  • Excess body fat around the waist, and
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels

<img decoding="async" loading="lazy" width="266" height="71" src="MetSyn.png" alt="Metabolic Syndrome Canada">‘ src=”http://brianjanderson.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/MetSyn.png”>One in five (19.1%) Canadians suffers from <a href="http://metabolicsyndromecanada.ca/about-metabolic-syndrome">Metabolic Syndrome (MetS)</a> which leads to chronic illnesses that account for 43% of all deaths in Canada. And 17% of health care costs. </p>

<p>Primary risk groups:</p>

<ul><li>40% of people over 65 have it, because they’re sitting longer than 8 hours a day</li><li>18-49 year olds are also showing high levels of obesity, low levels of HDL (the good cholesterol), and hyper (high levels of) triglycerides (fats stored in your blood) – from too many pastries and sweet rolls. ‘Could be, they’re sitting around a lot watching their screen of choice. </li></ul>

<p>The treatment to reverse these conditions is the opposite of what caused them:  “a healthy diet and movement, even leisurely movement. Any physical activity helps maintain muscle tone, your ability to move and your mental well-being, especially as you age. To begin with, you’ll burn more calories which might lead to weight loss and increased energy.” (Source: Mayo Clinic) We shall see in the  paragraphs to follow how walking fulfills all of these. </p>

<h2 class="wp-block-heading">Benefits of Walking: Part I</h2>

<p><strong>It’s economical</strong></p>

<ul><li>Walking is free, and you may walk as often as you wish</li><li>There’s no need to drive anywhere</li><li>No special clothing or outfits are required</li><li>Any soft-soled pair of shoes will do, and </li><li>You can begin in any type of physical condition (Ok, there are exceptions – so check with your doctor)</li></ul>

<p><strong>But how much walking? </strong></p>

<p>A Mayo Clinic analysis of data from more than 1 million people found that 60-75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day countered the effects of too much sitting. </p>

<p>But you won’t start off walking an hour+ a day; you build up to it. Depending on your physical condition, you may wish to set a modest goal on Day #1. Maybe walk to the end of your street. After completing that first challenge, congratulate yourself and set a slightly more ambitious objective for Day #2 – and so on. Take it easy when you begin: there’s no rush. The most important factor is consistency: aim to walk daily. </p>

<h2 class="wp-block-heading">Benefits of Walking: Part II</h2>

<p><strong>Positive Physical Changes</strong></p>

<ul><li>1-5 minutes: your body releases energy-producing changes which fires you up for a walk. Your heart rate increases to 70-100 bpm, muscles warming up, blood flow boosted and fats and carbs begin being used for energy</li><li>6-10 minutes: 6 calories burned/minute, cardio system (heart & lungs) increase capacity and blood pressure lowers</li><li>11-20 minutes of continuous walking: your body temperature rises and 7 calories are burned each minute </li><li>21 – 45 minutes, your body’s natural happiness hormones, called endorphins, are released, you’re burning more fat, tension is reduced and insulin (hormone that regulates blood sugar) levels drop </li><li>45 – 60 minutes: blood flows boosted, more calories burned (how many?), and your body is being oxygenated – you feel great! </li></ul>

<p>All the while, toxins are being eliminated through your skin’s pores through perspiration;  your leg muscles are being stretched without you having to; and your digestion system works better due to movement, allowing for maximum absorption of nutrients. </p>

<p>And, for those interested in walking to lose weight, check out this chart. <strong>Source: </strong></p>

<figure class="wp-block-image"><img decoding="async" loading="lazy" width="560" height="448" src="https://brianjanderson.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Calories-burned.png" alt="" class="wp-image-901" srcset="https://brianjanderson.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Calories-burned.png 560w, https://brianjanderson.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Calories-burned-300x240.png 300w" sizes="(max-width: 560px) 85vw, 560px" /><figcaption>Courtesy of VeryWellFit.com</figcaption></figure>

<h2 class="wp-block-heading">Benefits of Walking: Part III</h2>

<p><strong>Increased Awareness</strong></p>

<div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="alignleft"><img decoding="async" loading="lazy" width="247" height="184" src="https://brianjanderson.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/garden.png" alt="" class="wp-image-924"/><figcaption>No neighborhood uniformity here</figcaption></figure></div>

<p> As you stroll, you’ll begin to notice things you’ve likely overlooked    before: neighborhood details like <strong>eye catching gardens</strong>, architectural  features of homes and buildings, interesting flowers, different types of  birds and their distinctive calls, and so on</p>

<p> </p>

<div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="alignright is-resized"><img decoding="async" loading="lazy" src="http://brianjanderson.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Forest3.png" alt="<img decoding="async" loading="lazy" src="forest3.png" alt="Forest clearing">" class="wp-image-929" width="199" height="152"/><figcaption>Nature rejuvenates</figcaption></figure></div>

<p>While strolling in a forest, I marveled at the effect of sunlight  peeking through the overhanging trees. I was so struck by the beauty   that I stood there for several minutes before taking this photo.  </p>

<p><strong>Majestic Oak</strong></p>

<div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="alignleft is-resized"><img decoding="async" loading="lazy" src="http://brianjanderson.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Big-oak-2.png" alt="<img decoding="async" loading="lazy" src="Big-oak-2.png" alt="Big old oak tree">" class="wp-image-921" width="153" height="197"/><figcaption>100+ years in the making</figcaption></figure></div>

<p> A 15-minute walk away, I discovered the biggest oak tree I’ve even seen. I stood there for minutes, looking up, fascinated by the breadth and expanse of its gargantuan branches.  Etched in stone nearby was a history of the tree telling readers that it was over 100 years old. Definite photo opp. </p>


<p>To begin monitoring your total steps,  distance traveled, and calories  burned, it’s best to get a <strong>pedometer</strong>. Several are available as apps on  your mobile phone or you can buy one and attach it to your belt or article of clothing.   </p>

<p>Soon, your body and mind will demand that you walk, and not only to get exercise. You’ll soon find that walking has become part of your daily life. </p>

<h2 class="wp-block-heading">Stanford study: walking improves creativity</h2>

<p>Have a creative project but stuck for ideas? Walking is the answer, says a Stanford University (U.S.) study. Research findings found that walking boosts both creative inspiration. </p>

by <a href="http://aaalab.stanford.edu/about-us/marily-oppezzo/">Marily Oppezzo</a>, a Stanford doctoral graduate in educational
psychology, and <a href="http://ed.stanford.edu/faculty/danls">Daniel Schwartz</a>, a professor at <a href="http://ed.stanford.edu/">Stanford
Graduate School of Education</a> found that walking boosts creative inspiration by an
average of 60%, compared to sitting.</p>

<p>Oppezzo and Schwartz had people
think up new ideas while sitting at a desk or walking on a treadmill at their
own comfortable pace. Their study, published in the <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/xlm/40/4/1142/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Journal of
Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition</a>, showed that people did better while walking than

<p>Walking benefited creative brainstorming (where multiple ideas are generated – called Divergent thinking); however, it didn’t have a positive effect on focused thinking – when a single correct answer is required, and creativity is not (Convergent thinking) – like math. </p>

<p>The walking or sitting sessions
used to measure creativity lasted anywhere from 5 to 16 minutes, depending on
the tasks being tested. More good news: creative juices continued to flow even
when a person sat back down shortly after a walk.</p>

<p><strong>What Type of Walking? </strong></p>

<p>For tasks requiring creative thought, <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01580/full">a leisurely, random, self-generated walk works best</a>. Whereas, a walk to the store for an identified item, following a straight line route, won’t allow to generate ideas. Why not? </p>

<p>One idea Taiwanese researchers  Chun-Yu Kuo and Yei-Yu Yeh  proposed in their <a aria-label="Frontiers in Psychology article,  Sensorimotor-Conceptual Integration in Free Walking Enhances Divergent Thinking (opens in a new tab)" href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01580/full" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Frontiers in Psychology article,  Sensorimotor-Conceptual Integration in Free Walking Enhances Divergent Thinking</a>,  was that an integration of the conceptual aspect of generating the free form patterns and the sensor motor experience of moving is needed to benefit divergent thinking. You may refer to their </p>

what if it’s winter and walking outside is treacherous?</strong></p>

<p>Says Oppezzo, “Walking
on a treadmill in a small, boring room still had strong results, which
surprised me.” A person walking indoors – on a treadmill in a room facing a
blank wall – or walking outdoors in the fresh air produced twice as many
creative responses, compared to a person sitting down. </p>

the intensity of an exercise matter? </strong></p>

<p>Nothing definitive here, but researchers concluded that the short-term benefits of a walk may be limited to lower intensity, casual strolls. </p>

<p>“We’re not saying walking can turn
you into Michelangelo,” Oppezzo said. “But it could help you at the beginning
stages of creativity.”</p>

<p>My comment:</p>

<p>This intriguing study lines up with my long-time custom of going for walks with client interview notes. While I often end up at a Starbucks, my routes are random and unplanned. Upon my arrival, and after a few sips of my Grande Bold, I set to work jotting down themes and ideas that occur to me. I’ve always discovered great ideas – and so can you. </p>
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The Dangers of Canadians’ Home Equity Line of Credit: Guest post

It’s no secret that Canadian homeowners have a longstanding love affair with their home equity line of credit (HELOC). However, this love has the potential to go sour through a variety of ways, leaving millions heartbroken.

At the heart of this romance is a low-cost, low interest, flexible way to borrow money. In the early 2000s, banks began providing a home equity line of credit as a standard addition to new mortgages.

Read the rest of this article …

Food Intolerance and Diet Plan: My Life Experience

Based on the tone and content of my first post on food intolerance prior to this one, it would seem my dietary situation was in order, and, overall, it has been.

But, as can be expected in a major transition, lessons and insights have been numerous these past 5 years. Yes, that’s right. I wrote these 2 food intolerance posts 5 years but decided that a long-term view would be best for experimental and educational reasons.

Continue reading “Food Intolerance and Diet Plan: My Life Experience”

Reducing Expenses on Out-of-Home Meals and Snacks: Guest post

In this age of out-of-control debt, reducing expenses is a priority.

A great place to start is with Canadians’ top financial guilty pleasure: eating out at restaurants and bars. Also included are coffees, and so-called treats, many of which are laced with sugar, salt, and fat.

Canada’s restaurants, bars, and caterers rang up $68.1-billion in sales in 2017, a nearly 120% increase from $31-billion in 1998, according to Restaurants Canada.

As these numbers aren’t broken down into categories, I’m going to focus on food outlets that represent habitual day-to-day expenses; you know… those stops on the way to work where lattes, muffins, Egg McMuffins or maybe a Starbucks smoothie are picked up.

Read the rest of this article…

Lack of a Personal Goal leads Canadians to Overuse Restaurants: Guest Post

<img decoding=Upon reviewing the Capital One Canada study on Canadians’ financial guilty pleasures, it struck me that no one quoted mentioned a personal goal.

When people lack a personal goal that represents what they want to be doing and who they want to become, it’s very easy to be led astray.

As I will illustrate, cultural-market forces can influence people to make choices they wouldn’t make if they were guided by their own compass.

Read the rest of this article…

John Wright Mortgage Broker & Money Coach: content writing completed

With 25 years of experience as a mortgage broker, John knows it all – and delivers. He’ll also help you pay down your debt.

I had the pleasure of working with mortgage broker and money coach John Wright and getting his online reputation solidified.

Work continued on his Debt Eliminator course which helps people avoid consumer proposals and bankruptcy while raising their credit score.

8 Billion Acts of Innovation: content writing completed

One of my most exciting projects ever! 8 Billion Acts of Innovations is a venture capital funding TV show were Artificial Intelligence companies compete for $20 million per episode. The content writing task involved interviews, research, and the writing of all pages, bios, and menus.

Of particular note are the AI case studies I personally researched and wrote up. They spell out how AI can help solve difficult business problems and deliver better customer service.

The company and TV show is the work of visionary Canadian Taimour Zaman who has pioneered several other successful entrepreneurial ventures.

Want to Feel Better? Investigate Food Intolerance

I’m feeling and looking much better after discovering, then eliminating, foods my body had an acute intolerance to.

Unlike a food allergy which causes an immediate reaction, the effects of a food intolerance occur hours or days later.

Long term consumption of foods your body doesn’t like leads to chronic inflammation with many unpleasant symptoms: nausea, irregularity, celiac disease, eczema, asthma, depression, hyperactivity, and migraines.

Continue reading “Want to Feel Better? Investigate Food Intolerance”