Which words do you use excessively?
8 Weak Words to Get Out of Your Next Blog Post
Our attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish - 8 seconds.
That calls out for creating engaging content that provides answers to the most relevant questions your audience may have.
But that alone is not enough. You can't afford a single weak sentence. Yes, even a shaky word that deviates from your central idea can cause your reader to lose interest.
You have to put your arguments around and write them in as few and simple words as possible. Your first draft may very likely not be your best. It may contain weak or redundant words. Your arguments may have a tendency to weaken or lack substance.
It's not just you who have these problems. Around 26% of college graduates have insufficient writing skills. We are part of the internet generation and our choice of words and grammar suffer as a result.
If you take a close look at your writing style, you will see patterns. You can always find some general, vague expressions that make you appear lazy and undermine your credibility.
In this article, I'll show you how to get rid of the 8 most common weak words from your texts. You will also find a list of alternatives and (if possible) examples. Let's improve your writing style together.
1. Things / things
You are likely to use these words when the correct noun cannot be identified for a particular situation. For example: 4 things successful entrepreneurs do every morning.
Or maybe you use it when you want to sound casual and easy going. For example: Can you please do this paperwork for me?
If you're in a business environment, this casualness makes you seem unprofessional.
If you notice the overuse of these words, you need to replace them with more accurate and meaningful expressions. Don't expect your reader to go out of their way to find out what your words mean. It is much easier to close the page and go to another website.
You can use the following alternatives based on the context - strategy, goal setting, concept, aspects, elements, and principles. Here are 10 alternatives from Speakspeak.com.
Example: 4 morning rituals of successful entrepreneurs.
2. Really / Very
These words are bad if they are used too often. They make your statements seem vague. Even Mark Twain hated the word "very":
“Replace any“ very ”you want to write with“ damn ”; Your editor will cut it. Then your text is exactly as it should be. "
Example: blogging is really powerful at generating inbound leads. Or: SEO is very important for every online business.
The alternative to these words is to use more meaningful versions of these words.
Example: Starved instead of really hungry. Or exhausted instead of very tired.
Writerswrite has put together an excellent list of 45 alternatives for the word "very". Experiment with them. The alternatives almost always work. Even for the word "really".
Note: Sometimes you can use "a lot" and "really" to add emphasis to your words. However, excessive use will weaken their effectiveness.
3. Think / believe / mean
When you write an article, it is already clear that you mean, think or believe in your ideas. Using these verbs will only make you appear insecure and insincere. Do not start a new argument with such an introduction.
Instead, provide data, scientific knowledge, research results, and statistics that support your idea. Get to the point right away and don't waste your reader's time.
I regularly share my opinion or forecast and these articles are quite popular because I make sure that every argument is backed up with statistics and results. Here are 3 such articles that I recently published.
If you don't have data to back up your statement, removing these weak words from your text will instantly make the statements seem more believable. I would like to demonstrate this to you with an example.
Original: I think you don't need a college degree to get into internet marketing.
Alternative: You don't need a college degree to get into internet marketing.
4. Will / Become / Become
Do you know what is one of the main causes of vague and difficult to understand texts?
The use of the passive voice.
If you are not clear about the subject, then you may want to use the passive voice.
The use of the different forms of the verb “werden” is an indication that you are using the passive voice. And that means that you leave out crucial information.
In addition, it can confuse your reader. Because when your subject is at the passive end of the chain of action, your formulations only become more cumbersome.
If it is not an academic text, it is better to use the active writing style.
Original: Email subscribers were lost and traffic was reduced.
Alternative: A series of spam emails caused email subscribers to unsubscribe, which reduced website traffic.
Note: It is okay to use the passive voice if you want to draw the reader's attention to the object. Or if you don't know the subject, but still want to give the readers some important information.
5. Better / Fast
These two words also symbolize ambiguity.
You can't know why onesubject “Better” is and with which oneMeasurethis can be measured “better”. “Fast” is an approximation that leaves a doubt in the reader. If you use these words too often, your blog post will lose its persuasiveness.
Giving your readers targeted information and data is a great alternative. Let me explain this using an example.
Original: Now your traffic is better.
Alternative: Your traffic has been much better since you started using social media marketing.
Original: You have almost completed the writing course.
Alternative: You are only two ten-minute lessons away from completing your writing course.
Movie title. Promotional slogans. Email traffic. Social network news feeds. Blog post headings on Buzzfeed.
Just look around and you will find that this word is used far too much and incorrectly every day. Indeed, the subject need not be surprising, remarkable, perplexing, or wonderful.
“Amazing” or the German equivalents “amazing” and “sensational” can quickly creep into our everyday language and replace any general positive sensation that does not astonish you or make your heart beat faster. For example: Watering my plants was sensational (you meant maybe beautiful / satisfying?)
The word “amazing” is now used so often that it has lost its connotation, just as “awesome” found its way into everyday language in the past. This is also reminiscent of the use of the words “groovy” or “fragrant” in the 1960s.
Google Books shows the following increase in the use of the word. And here you just see the increase in use in printed books. Conversations on social networks aren't even counted here.
Since the word has lost its luster, I recommend that you only use it if you are genuinely amazed or baffled. I guess that doesn't happen that often.
Rachel Parker has compiled a list of 101 alternative terms. So you can "sensationally" completely banish from your vocabulary and expand your creative skills when creating your blog posts.
7. Maybe / Possibly / Always
Your readers will learn from you. If you want to be seen as an authority in your industry, research and come up with an informed opinion.
“Maybe” and “possibly” are not part of a concise and decisive writing style. Your audience doesn't like reading lengthy debauchery. Therefore, ban these words from your texts. Let me give you an example of how you can remove the items in question from your blog posts.
Original:Maybe SEO will still be relevant to building website traffic in 5 years' time.
Alternative: SEO won't go away in the next 5 years. The boundaries between social networks and SEO will only blur.
You will find that removing these words from a sentence will often restore its clarity and make you sound even more confident.
Original:PossiblyBlogging can help your business attract more leads and subscribers.
Alternative: Blogging can help your business get more leads and subscribers.
“Always” is on the other end of the spectrum. In most cases, it is too aggressive and over the top to present your argument. So instead of figuring out the specific circumstances under which an event occurs, you took the easy route and used “always”.
Exceptions are the rule. Accordingly, the word “never” is dangerous and can make you seem ignorant. Let me show you an example.
Original: Always get up at 5 a.m. and start writing.
Alternative: For many writers, the best time to start is the morning. It's a good place to start if you're trying to figure out the time of day you're most productive.
8. Simple / Literal
None of these filler words offer added value.
In most cases, if you remove the word "simple", you will make your text shorter without affecting the meaning of the sentence. Often this word is used to weaken requirements, but that negatively affects your credibility and undermines your message. Here is an example.
Original: Publisheasy High quality content every week for 6 months. You will see how traffic through search engines increases.
Alternative: publish high quality content every week without exception - after 6 months you will reap the fruits of your efforts and notice an increase in traffic via search engines.
It should go without saying that you believe in your arguments. You don't have to emphasize that. The word “verbatim” is used (often incorrectly) in informal conversations. Especially if you want to be taken seriously in a humorous conversation.
Often the word is mistakenly used as a synonym for “really” or “actually”.
The excessive use of the word caused the co-author of "Parks and Recreation", Michael Schur, to give the character of this NBC sitcom, Rob Lowes, a preference for this word.
Original: You have toliterally write every day if you want to improve your creative skills.
Alternative: Write every day to improve your creative skills.
2 tools to help you avoid carelessness in your blog posts.
Here I've listed the most overused and weakest words that keep you from making your arguments meaningful. But it is impossible to make a complete list (Jon Morrows' list of 297 weak words is probably the best on the subject).
I would like to share some tools with you that will help you avoid carelessness and not sabotage your brand.
1. The Hemingway App – Ernest Hemingway was known for his short sentences and simple language. This clear app for text editing analyzes your blog post and helps you to write your texts.
When you enter a paragraph in the tool, markers appear for:
- Better simpler alternatives for weak words,
- Cases in which the passive voice was used
- Difficult to understand sentences,
- A grade for the legibility of the text.
Here is the analysis of a text from my beginner's guide to online marketing.
You can see that 6 sentences were classified as difficult to understand and I received a grade of 8 for readability. As soon as you improve the sentences, you will get a better grade. It's a great tool for finding recurring errors and fixing them.
2. Copyscape – Copied and newly published content of your website can be placed higher in the search engine results. Journeys by Design lost its ranking due to duplicate content.
Discover Copyscape - it's a great tool for checking the authenticity of content and finding any plagiarism (stolen or duplicated) floating around the web.
Global Lingo found that 74% of consumers looked at the quality of grammar and spelling on a brand's website. In fact, 59% said they would not do business with a company that made grammatical or spelling mistakes.
Therefore it is important to pay attention to your language, choice of words, grammar and spelling. Pick a blog post and search it for the weak words I listed in this article. You will likely find some places where these words undermine your arguments.
I recommend that you remove these redundant words from your articles. However, it is important to understand the context in which I mentioned these words. You will find that the occasional use of these words does not limit your style. It always depends on the situation.
Now it's your turn. Which word do you use too often? Are there any vague expressions that you notice more often than others? Share them with me in the comments.
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