You know you need content for your website. Audiences want new perspectives. Google demands fresh language. So, you’re sharing regular updates, blogging on schedule, and always creating new content. But your audiences? Instead of reading, sharing, and coming back for more, they’re bouncing from your content in droves.
If any aspect of this situation sounds familiar, you may be sharing too much fluff. And by doing so, you’re boring, confusing, or overwhelming your readers. From your paragraphs to your word choice, follow these editing tips to create clear, compelling content your audiences want to read:
Macro: Fluff in Paragraphs
Dense paragraphs. Complex information. Too many details. All of these traits will instantly turn people away from your content. Look for ways you can slim thoughts and strengthen flow within your paragraphs.
• Create content chunks: Chunking content helps us to process details easily by grouping similar details together while creating white space on a page. Make sure you organize information based on topic and hierarchy, and remove any details that sway from your original point.
• Control paragraph length: No one wants to read long, dense paragraphs — especially online. Help your readers out by avoiding paragraphs that people have to scroll through. To do so, include one main point and no more than five sentences per paragraph. Once you start shifting topics, create a new paragraph.
• Remove redundant ideas: Overlapping thoughts and concepts create unnecessary words to get through — and repetition. You can streamline your content by identifying any areas of redundancy. Look for similar phrasing and repeated details throughout the content. From there, remove the language and find new concepts or ways to share your point that create fresh perspectives for your readers.
Micro Fluff: Word Choice
Your word choice and sentence construction can turn crisp writing into marshmallow fluff. And once you lose readers from clunky language, getting them back can be nearly impossible. Look for fluff in the following word choices:
• Adverbs: Adverbs are often unnecessary, especially when you double-up (like very quickly versus quickly). Adverbs can also be difficult for translators working on content, creating clunky writing in your target language. If you can remove an adverb and still retain meaning, you don’t need the word.
• Nominalizations: Turning verbs into nouns (called nominalizations) can be the death of clear writing. Not only do these nouns flatten strong action from a sentence by removing the verbs, you also add extra words (like the creation of instead of create). You can often identify these nouns by –tion on the end of them. Go through your writing, and turn any nominalizations into their strong verbs.
• Passive voice: Passive voice creates clunkier sentences, because you need more words to share your thoughts. You can also remove the noun performing the action, adding confusion (or dodging responsibility!). Slim word count and strengthen sentence structure by choosing active voice over passive. Doing so turns a sentence like The monthly report is written by Bob into Bob writes the monthly report.
Overall, content fills with fluff in a variety of ways, from sharing too many details to writing too long of sentences. By starting with these editing tips, you’ll streamline your language, strengthen your concepts — and create clear, compelling content people
actually have the enjoyment of enjoy reading.