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Why is Writing So Neglected?

after all, "Content is King", is it not?



7:10 am on Mar 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I stroll around to a number of webmaster sites and generally find that there is very little emphasis on written content. Just one example is the piddling number of posts and replies here on WW. Even in this "Content, Writing and Copyright" section, there is more about plagiarism and content theft than about writing. It doesn't get much better elsewhere.

I am aware of a few copy writing sites. But it seems most of those folks are peddling solutions that purport to tell others how to make money and have less to do with discussing good and effective web content and sales copy.

How much of the web is written content? My guess would be a few billion pages. But how much of that content is well written? My guess would be somewhere between 1 & 5%. Written really well .. .5%?

On webmaster forums we see lots of topics with long involved discussions on PHP, JavaScript, Apache, etc, etc. But those functions are mainly various means of presenting content. And much of of that content is written.

I'm just curious why so little attention is paid to the art and craft of writing quality content.


12:02 am on Jun 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Too many people are outsourcing now trying to make quick money or do not have a vert solid online business plan instead of taking the long road with real quality original ideas and seems this site is being taken over by DP forum people (sorry and good thing no page rank complaing here anymore). We all used to complain about the Goog updates but had people really help like Tedster still does and Brett (and more of you) stepping back in. The search engines are changing now big time.

Sure glad I get plenty of visitors direct and don't worry about the search engines so much anymore (sort of). A good business plan for a site will help you.



12:41 am on Jun 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This really is a great thread. I'll just mention that many may have an inability to type efficiently. Writing is one thing, typing is another. For example, this took 5 minutes, after spell check, editing out of half the post to avoid any blah blah. Even a paragraph can take a half hour, sometimes more.

On the stolen, copied content issue, isn't it about time a new tag was created. I don't think I've ever seen it mentioned. It would be an attribute showing that yours is the original article.
Something like rel="orig art"> so it can be distinguished from the copiers and given the PR credit it deserves.


2:38 pm on Jun 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Writing on the web is, in some ways, a complete different creature than other forms of writing, but it encompasses all of them in one form or another. You absolutely must know your audience to do it correctly. And even then, you still need to test, test, and test some more to make sure you're getting your message across. Content development should be part of the overall strategy when building your site, as much as design and development. Too often, it's not.

Even more importantly (in my opinion), you need a good writer to create the best web content. Unfortunately, I think those of us who truly value writing (let alone writing on the internet) enough to create a career from it are few and far between. It's a thankless job, and one that everyone has an opinion on and thinks they can do better than the person hired to write. But you wouldn't hire some random person off the street to develop your site--so why would you let just anyone write your site?

Basic web writing tips (that I give to every writer I train):

* Keep it short. The shorter it is, the easier it is to read. Obviously there are exceptions to this (like disclaimers) but they should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

* Make it scannable. Bullets are great for breaking down large amounts of info.

* Don't BS people. They aren't stupid. If they think you're trying to pull one over on them, they'll just go somewhere else.

* Use correct spelling and grammar. I have to disagree wholeheartedly with the person who said don't worry about grammar. On a professional website, no matter your tone and purpose, you'll look sloppy and drive away customers if you can't even follow basic grammar rules.

* Wrap organic SEO into your writing. It's much easier to do it right the first time than to go back and try to dump in keywords later.


1:17 am on Jun 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have to disagree wholeheartedly with the person who said don't worry about grammar.

That was me :-)

What I meant was that sometimes the story is more important than having syntax and format perfect. For sure, if it's a major commercial site, make sure the copy is good. But if you're just trying to draw people into a non-commercial site, and have them follow your updates, concentrate on your unique story, and don't get bogged down in worrying if your grammer is perfect (which/what, who/whom, effect/affect, etc.)

Still a great thread.


1:42 am on Jun 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

sometimes the story is more important

If the story is so important, why undermine it with credibility-killing carelessness about small things?

don't get bogged down in worrying

Small details can sometimes make a big difference in what something actually says.

It behooves us all to master the writer's craft well enough to make sure that readers don't have to guess at what we meant.


2:13 am on Jun 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Ok, I take it all back ;-)

Personally, I'm very careful about grammar and spelling, and have some understanding of it. I just didn't want people to be too worried about having their content perfect, but was rather trying to simply encourage them to create it themselves, instead of trying to scoop it from others (the mfa and scraper approach).


7:39 pm on Jun 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Stefan, I understand where you're coming from, and I hope I didn't come across as too abrupt (I tend to get a bit obsessed when it comes to discussing writing and content). I totally agree that first and foremost unique content should be encouraged above all else. But, like buckworks noted, sometimes it's the small details that make a difference in a user's perception of the site.

And yes, this is a fantastic thread :)


12:56 am on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Not a problem. I'm used to things being a bit brusque here (the recent feedback pages had much to say about that, so I know I'm not alone).

There are different approaches on this, but the main thing is the content. People can try to game the serps as much as they want with tricks, but being the real deal is what wins in the end. Also, having some sort of niche, of course. You can't expect the SE's to consistently prefer your widget site if a million other people have similar widget sites. I read more than I post here, and that seems to be the main mistake that a lot of people make.


6:27 am on Jun 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

There's no magic to this. Content is just that: content. Some is Pulitzer Prize level (rarely) or ordinary Jane (usually), but all benefit from "regular grammar and spelling".

Let's not make a mountain out of a molehill. Best one can do is one's best (using above) and there you are.
This 39 message thread spans 2 pages: 39

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