• Shannon

Let's Talk Grammar

I’ve been lurking again.  I don’t know why I do this to myself ― all it does is raise my blood pressure. But I can’t help myself.

Today I found a website that claims to write real estate content yet, while looking over the client list, I see only one real estate-related mention. Apparently, this company wrote something for an agent in Southern California. I visited the agent’s website and, if this is an example of this company’s writing, its clients are in deep doo-doo.

For instance, what real estate writer doesn’t know that REALTOR is how to refer to those who are members of the National Association of Realtors? Sure, NAR says we can use “Realtor,” but never, ever, is it “realtor,” which is the way the writer referred to agents right there on her Realtor client's home page.

Then there are all the other tell-tale signs on the company’s own website that scream “novice!”

Let’s take a look at some of the common mistakes I find on writer’s websites. I’ve chosen the ones that agents tend to use on their own sites. Live and learn, my friend.

Academic Degrees

If you are going to list your college degree, the preferred method is to capitalize only the official diploma title, not the major (unless, of course, the major is English).

“She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.” Notice, if you will that journalism isn’t capitalized. Use the lowercase form if you are shortening the official name of the diploma. For instance: He earned a bachelor’s degree in technical writing.

Noun and Pronoun Agreement

“A good content writer would do well to serve up heaping portions of words on their site.”

Yes, this is an actual sentence from a content writing company’s website. Can you see the problem with that sentence?

It’s common and it drives me nuts! Fix it easily by changing the number of content writers and sites from one to more than one.

The new and improved sentence would be: “Good content writers would do well to serve up heaping portions of words on their sites.” 

If the truth be known, it’s an ugly sentence. “Good content writers serve up heaping portions of words on their sites,” is better but it’s still a stupid sentence.

Downright Laziness

After writing a sentence, go back and look at it. Does it make sense? Or is it one of those “I know what I want to say” type of things but it’s not working?

One writer describes a dentist’s office as having an open floor plan, with no “closed in walls.” First, the sentence is redundant. Open floor plans lack walls. Next, would someone please explain to me what a “closed in wall” is?

Methinks the writer should’ve stopped at “open floor plan.” And, if he or she absolutely had to use the term, at least use it properly and hyphenate it (closed-in wall).

How about triteness? Do you tolerate that on your website? How many times have you heard the phrase “truly unique experience,” “state-of-the-art technology” and the cringe-worthy “cutting edge?” In the real estate world it would be "Now is a great time to buy!" Or that a home is "possibly the largest investment you'll ever make."

The Bio

I LOVE writing agent bios. I get a huge kick out of learning about the subjects  ― their backgrounds and how they got from there to here. Writing a compelling real estate bio takes time and a lot of thought.

Yet, I see bios every day that completely shortchange the client.

For instance, why lead the bio with “Dr. So and So was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska?” Is that truly compelling? Does it make you want to read more? Now, compare that to this:

“He may be a media darling, but Herman Chan is basically a down-to-earth yet somewhat “wackadoo” guy who will not only steal your heart when you meet him, but you’ll vow – hook, line and sinker – to become a member of the Hermanity tribe.”

Or, this one: “In a room full of real estate agents, Katie Yeager is sure to stand out. No, it’s not the blonde hair, the great-big smile or the to-the-point manner of speaking. It’s the fact that she’s the only agent in the room wearing jammies.”

The first sentence in any piece of journalism is known as “the lede,” and it’s the most important sentence of the entire piece. It must hook the reader, draw him in, make him want to read more.

Anything less than this is just lazy and certainly doesn’t deserve compensation.

How is your grammar in your website content? If you think it doesn’t matter, think again.

“Google’s human raters and algorithm can distinguish between content written by an amateur and content written by a pro. If you want your content to rank well, it’s got to be professionally written.

If you’re looking to win in the content marketing game, don’t mess around with low-quality writers,”says Neil Patel in Search Engine Journal.

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