What are some tips for writing web content?

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Answered by: Cyndy, An Expert in the Build Your Website Category
... Or: Two Reasons to Proofread When Writing Web Content

Recently my son, who owns a design and inbound marketing company, asked me to help him out by writing content for a website makeover he had accepted. It was after I agreed that he dropped the first shoe; he was doing someone else a favor, not working for one of his own clients.

My son does quite a bit of networking in his office building. Another business owner was redoing a website he had taken over on a shoestring budget, with the promise of additional web sites to come. Unfortunately this other business owner doesn't write content, which brought him to my son's door. He could only offer a small payload now, with the promise of a bigger return for content on all of those additional future sites.

Can you hear the sound of the second shoe hitting the floor about now? This content needed to be finished in 36 hours. And, expanded from five to 19 pages. I DID happen to have all of the next day free, didn't I?

I would be writing for a dental site. Now I know I need to have my teeth cleaned twice a year and have an annual check-up. I brush daily, floss and use mouthwash. My Mom the nurse taught me to brush my tongue as well. Thus ends my knowledge of all things dental. My son said I could copy and paste from the existing site, then just "flesh out" as I wanted. "Oh, and Mom," he said, "there is another site that is getting slammed with traffic. It is the perfect example of a great dental website!I I'll send the link. Since it's so good you should be able to get some great ideas!"

I began at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. As I carefully looked over the site that would soon be taken down, one thought began to run on a slow loop through my mind: "Who proofread this site before it was launched??"

Before I started on the new content, I thought I should take a quick look at the site my son had recommended as the "perfect example." Guess what? There was that slow loop again! All I could do was shake my head and try not to count the mistakes. So about those two reasons to proofread:

1.     Typos and Grammar

2.     Spelling Errors

Here's the thing. I understand wanting so badly to get your business going that you just want to GET A WEBSITE LAUNCHED! However, if that website is riddled with typos and grammatically incorrect phrases, you present yourself as sloppy and unprofessional at best. I stop reading after the second paragraph full of errors.

If there are also many spelling errors, with a general feeling that no one at all other than the author has looked at this site prior to launch, you present yourself not only as sloppy and unprofessional, but LAZY! If you do not care about the grammar or spelling, and do not believe that the look and feel of your website in any way represents you and your business, I will not even consider giving your company my hard earned money. Because, after all, if you don't care about how you present yourself on the web, how can I trust you will present yourself differently in person?

I am not alone in my opinion. You must proofread content. When you are writing web content for your site, don't just use spell check. Spell check will make sure all of your words are spelled correctly. However it will not tell you if you have used a word in the appropriate context. After you write your content, read it again, top to bottom. Then read it again. Then take a five minute break, walk away, return and read it once more.

After that, if at all possible ask a friend to read over your entire website twice. First as though they were a potential client. Then more slowly, looking for mistakes, or phrases that might sound better put another way. If your content is too sloppy, or too difficult to read, the average person WON'T read it. That means that person won't give you their business, either. So while you may get some traffic to your site, you will not get any business from that traffic. It truly is important to pay attention to what you publish. Ask a friend or two, or three, to look over your content before you go live with your site.

A little bit of extra time will make the difference between a quick skim before a potential client goes on to the next web site, and that person writing down your contact information to call for an appointment. Isn't that worth the extra time and effort?

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