Lightning and the Lightning Bug: How Tiny Details Make a Big Difference in Web Copy

Lightning and the Lightning Bug“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” – Mark Twain

Ah, the sweet task of finding the perfect terms to draw your audience in, keep them engaged and clearly express information! Often, people don’t realize the importance of every word and how easily written information can be misconstrued by a reader’s bias.

Positive and Negative Connotation

There are many words that have changed meaning over time. Most are familiar with how “gay” has changed from a term of expressing serene joy to a sexual orientation. You probably are aware of the short time “tight” replaced the term “awesome”—or maybe you recall when “groovy” was used instead. Words change over time; sometimes the whole meaning of a word changes and, sometimes, a trendy word simply goes out of style.

Other times the word retains its meaning, but it takes on a positive or negative feel in the minds of the general public. The word “cheap” might seem like it would lure in those looking for a bargain, but most people associate it solely with the level of quality, rather than price.

Some words lose their appeal over time. Recently, “green” was a word every company longed to have somewhere in their literature—how green their products were, services they rendered for the environment or the choices they made in production. This buzzword has calmed down to an honest assessment of the company’s policies—no longer are companies fighting to “look” green, they are either environmentally conscious (and they can prove it), or they aren’t. The reality is: green is no longer a majorly trending keyword.

Aggressive Language

You know the “car salesman” approach to selling? “You must have this because it’s simply the best thing you will ever do in your life!” Well, aggressive sales language may have its place on the car lot, but the vast majority of websites and written content should steer clear. “Must-have” language appears spammy and desperate.

Customers don’t want to read through content bloated with advertising, they want the real deal. They want to know why a service or product would be helpful, but not just because you said so. They are looking for facts and real reviews. Aggressive writing (unless used very sparingly) will just turn them off.

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

Abusing common words in your business content is a sure-fire way to bore your audience to death. Awesome, beautiful, wonderful, amazing, important—how many times does your website, brochure, email, product description or blog post repeat these words? You don’t want to come off like you pulled out your thesaurus and went all perspicacious on your audience, and you certainly don’t want to use an unfamiliar term incorrectly, but you also don’t want to sound redundant and unoriginal.

Your Choice of Words

A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but it just isn’t going to sell. Hire writers to help your business avoid mediocre (or just plain confusing) jargon, descriptions and content for your business.

Alethea M is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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