Web content’s seven deadly sins

Your XSite comes with more than 100 professionally written and fully customizable content pages. But it's easy and important to customize them a little bit to make them more personal and geared to your market. It will dramatically help your search engine rankings, too.

Keep in mind that writing content for the web is different than writing an essay for English class. Web surfers rarely read web pages word by word; rather, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences that appeal to them. When you're writing your content, here are seven deadly sins to avoid.

1. Boring headlines. With as much skimming as happens on the Internet you need to make a visitor stop and pay attention. Use words in your header that appeal to your target market and remember the age-old K.I.S.S. formula: Keep it short and simple.

2. Not getting your point across. Treat your page like you would a news article and provide a summary of your information in the first paragraph or first few sentences.

3. Writing like a college professor. You're not writing to impress, you're writing to communicate! Keep your sentences simple and free of jargon.

4. Using passive tone. Read this sentence out loud. "I know I will be able to find the right home for you". Then read "I will find the right home for you." The second is much more powerful. Use the active tone to show confidence and professionalism.

5. Dense copy without subheads. People looking for homes on the web probably aren't looking for your 12 page stance on RESPA. Use simple subheads to break up text and guide the reader through the page.

6. Fluffy copy. Avoid using filler sentences that don't contribute to your discussion. For example, "I personally think providing the utmost level of customer service is the way to completing the transaction and getting into your home as quickly as possible." Could easily be shortened to, "I'll give your family the level of service it takes to quickly close on your home."

7. Spelling and grammar problems. Errors in your Web copy make your site look unprofessional and will likely turn off your visitors. Read the copy out loud or have someone else proof it. And don't over-rely on spell check—it won't pick up misspellings that are actually words themselves. (Like: "I can find you you're dream home!").