Every day, over 4 million blog posts are published.
With the Internet exploding with content in this new digital age, people are inundated with options. To stand out, your online content writing has to be engaging and sharp.
If the post rambles or has offensive material, you can say goodbye to that reader forever. In a poll conducted by a market research firm in New York, over 35% of people admitted they would not buy products from a company that has offensive content.
In this article, we’ll delve into many of the forbidden words you should avoid in your content creation.
Forbidden Words of Online Content Writing
There are a wide variety of forbidden words you should avoid in your content writing. These words range from being weak fillers to having negative connotations.
While you work on your blog writing, you should always take into consideration the context of your words. Stay aware of your cultural environment. If you’re ever in doubt, our biggest suggestion out of all our blog writing tips is to err on the side of safety and delete.
In a digital age where the human attention span is less than that of a goldfish, your writing needs to be tighter than ever. If your content fails to engage the reader, what do you think will happen? They'll go somewhere else to get the information and entertainment they want.
Weak words are most often crutch words. In writing, a crutch word is filler terms or phrases we've subconsciously picked up. There are many mistakes that new entrepreneurs make and crutch words are one of them.
When you're content writing, a crutch word weakens your point. You'll want to eliminate them whenever possible. Here is a list of some of the most common crutch words:
You'll be amazed at how easily the words 'stuff' and 'things' creep into your writing without you even noticing.
When doing content writing for a business, these words sound too informal and unprofessional. Remember, you always want to be as specific as possible in your writing.
This is especially true with your headlines.
You always want to trim the fat from your content. A rambling post filled with adverbs and modifiers will lose the attention of your reader fast. 'Really' and 'very' most often lead to vague writing that won't win anyone over.
Do you need a few content writing examples of this? Take a look at this headline: 3 Things a Very Good Entrepreneur Does. It’s vague and flat and fails at SEO.
Now look at this headline: 3 Traits a Successful Entrepreneur Has. This headline is much more specific and engaging.
These three words convey a lack of assurance and insincerity. Furthermore, these words are already understood as an inherent part of the article. When writing, you have to feel or believe or think about the content you're sharing.
You always want to back up your claims with statistics and research and facts. By opening a sentence with one of these three words, it makes your statement come across as phony. When your content appears phony, your credibility takes a hit.
These four words lead to passive voice. While filling out your blog writing format, always keep in the forefront of your mind that you need active voice to engage.
Connotation refers to what type of feeling a word invokes, as well as its literal meaning. Sometimes the connotation will rely upon the context of how the word was used.
Connotations vary between cultures. In one country a word might be harmless, whereas in another the word will take on a negative connotation.
One example of this is the term 'faggot' in British colloquialism. In Europe, this word means 'cigarette'. In America, it has a malicious and homophobic meaning.
Another example of a word having a negative connotation is ‘gypped’. In America, this is slang for someone being "defrauded, swindled, cheated", according to Merriam-Webster.
However, this word draws its roots from the word 'gypsy'. This is a term that was once used to often describe the Romani people. It's now known to be a racial slur that shouldn't be used.
If you choose poorly and go with a word that has a negative connotation, misinterpretations will happen. Not all words with negative connotations are as obvious as those that are rooted in racism and hate.
Take the word 'smell'. This has a neutral connotation. When you change the word to 'fragrance', it takes on a positive connotation. Then look at 'stench'. It takes on a whole different meaning.
Another example of this is ‘curious’ and ‘nosy’. They can both mean the same thing. ‘Curious’ conjures a different image from ‘nosy’ though. A person wouldn’t take offense at being called ‘curious’, but ‘nosy’ is a different story.
In your online content writing, you must always remain aware of the hidden double meaning of every word you use.
Clickbait refers to a headline that is sensationalized. It's often an exaggeration meant to lure you in and get you to click on the link to an article, image, or video. If you’re trying to build your brand, clickbait is a fast way to ruin your plans.
When you use clickbait, your brand loses authority and credibility. People irritated by clickbait will not be likely to return to your site either.
Some common terms used in clickbait are:
- Top/Best: You need to analyze whether you can back up this claim. You don't want to give your readers a reason to doubt you.
- Worst: If you're going to claim a product is "the worst", you'll need factual data to back you up.
- Need: There is a distinguishing factor between a 'need' and a 'want'. You must consider this when crafting your content. If you claim a person 'needs' something and it isn't, in fact, needed, you risk alienating people who might view you as privileged.
- Only: This word is often used in headlines in the context of "only guide you'll ever need". The problem with this is that the claim isn't true. There's a lot of information on the internet and there's probably another article out there covering the same topic as you, possibly more in-depth.
Jargon obscures the message of your brand. When you use jargon like buzzwords and ambiguous terms, your writing becomes less clear and you risk alienating your readers.
Here are several words that are considered jargon and should be eliminated from your writing:
- Synergy: People use this word often to appear smart. It's often used incorrectly. Instead of using 'synergy', consider using cooperation, help, or joint.
- Email Blast: Not only does this sound unprofessional, but it's also vague. Remember, you want to be as specific as possible in your content writing. Consider using newsletter or subscriber offer instead.
- 30,000 Feet: Unless you work closely at the intersection of business and marketing, most people have no clue what you mean when you use this phrase. Instead, use words like overview or summary.
- Viral: Referring to your content as viral before it has had a chance to "go viral" is disingenuous. Sometimes marketers will also use this word to describe the goal of their content. 'Viral' is too sweeping to measure as a realistic goal. Instead of using 'viral', instead create more measurable goals.
- User: This term feels too impersonal and dehumanizes your readers. Instead of referring to your readers as 'users', consider using words like people or customers. If you know the specifics of your targeted audience, then go with that. Example: movie lovers, teachers.
- Nonsensical Phrases: You'll want to avoid using cliches in your writing. Avoid using a phrase like 'touch base' in your writing. It makes little sense in online content writing when your readers won't be touching anything physical.
- Offensive Phrases: This one should go without saying, but always avoid using offensive language. You don't want to refer to something or someone as "Nazi-like".
Be Mindful in Your Writing
It's easy to fall into the trap of using any of these forbidden words in your online content writing.
If you've found something in this guide that you've already done, don't fret. The only thing you can do is move forward and try to do better. In more severe cases, like with the racially-charged terms, an open apology might also be in order.
It's never too late to change how you do things. While writing, strive to avoid inappropriate phrases, informal expressions, or any word that is vague or exaggerates the point beyond belief. You also want to steer clear of any stereotypes or colloquialisms.
The English language is always changing, evolving with the current social and political climate. As a content writer, it’s your job to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in terminology.
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