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Tight Writing: Get Rid of “Flowery” Words

Articles, Blog, Blogging, Editing, How-To, Press Releases, Product Descriptions, Web Writing Mistakes, Website Content, Website Copy

When you’re writing for the web, you have 3 to 5 seconds to grab a reader’s attention.

That’s all you get – the time it takes for a reader to raise his or her coffee cup and take a sip. If you haven’t captured your visitors’ interest in that time, they’ll click the back button to find someone who does.

Even if you get past the 3-to-5-second mark, you still need to keep your readers’ interest.

You do that by keeping things short, pithy and to-the-point.

Get Rid of Flowery Words

One of the best books in the world — The Giver, by Lois Lowry — uses a phrase that’s incredibly important in writing for the web: precision of language. (That’s not an affiliate link, but if you buy The Giver through Amazon at that link, which is something you should definitely do, Amazon donates to the Wounded Warrior Project.)

Back to precision of language.

Check out the difference between these sentences:

  • She sipped the piping hot coffee, her eyes leisurely flicking over the smudged, raindrop-splattered newspaper without being able to discern between the blurred and bleeding letters.
  • She sipped the hot coffee, glancing at the wet newspaper. The letters were blurry.
  • She sipped her coffee and looked at the paper.

The first sentence is great… if you’re reading a romance novel. On the Internet, people don’t have that kind of time.

The second sentence is okay.

The third gets to the point.

It’s called purple prose in the writing world, and it’s the last thing you need when you’re trying to get someone to buy your product or service. You need things in black and white, and that’s it.

Precision of Language

Describe what you need to describe quickly and simply. People are coming to you because you have something they want, so give them the information in accurate, simple terms. Make it easy for them to read, too, by:

  • Breaking things up with subheads
  • Using bullet points or numbered lists where appropriate
  • Cutting out useless words
  • Getting straight to the point
  • Writing paragraphs that have no more than four sentences each

And for the love of Cthulu, don’t introduce what you’re about to write. It’s annoying and treats readers as if you assume they’re stupid. (Nobody is going to buy anything from someone who treats them like they’re stupid.)

Save Yourself the Trouble

Naturally, you could save yourself the trouble of slipping flowery words into your product descriptions, press releases or website copy and hire a professional writer. I know a girl…

Should You Use Free Articles on Your Website?

Articles, Blog, Blogging, Google, SEO

There are a lot of tempting deals out there, and using free articles is one of them. If your business doesn’t have the budget to build out your website content, but you know you need pages (you do!), it might seem like a good idea to populate your site with freebies.

Let me put it bluntly: you’d be better off putting nothing at all on your website.

You’d be better off writing it yourself (even if you’re a terrible writer).

Here’s why.

Free Articles for Your Website Have Hidden Costs

Things that are published on the Internet are time- and date-stamped. Google’s bots are more intelligent than ever, so when they find two pieces of content that are identical, which one do you think they’re going to offer to searchers?

The one that’s been online longer.

That means you went to the trouble of populating your site with all these preexisting articles for nothing.

But it gets worse.

When the Googlebot figures out that you have identical content, they might even penalize your website. They do that by knocking the entire site (not just the copied pages) out of search engine results pages entirely.

Then nobody will find you.

The Best Alternative to Free Website Articles

Because you do need original content to survive online, start scratching out some ideas. You can write your copy yourself if you don’t have the budget to hire a writer.

Run it through the spellchecker and use something like Grammarly to make sure you’re not butchering it completely if you’re not a particularly talented wordsmith.

Just please, please, please… for your site’s sake, don’t use free articles on your website.