“No Filler or Fluff”: What Exactly Does That Mean in Content Writing?
Web designers, content writing companies, and discerning clients often add the following instruction to their guidelines:
No Fluff or Filler.
While most content writers understand the concept in a general sense, they often miss the mark when applying it to web content writing.
Below, we explore two prime examples of fluff and filler in content writing. In each of these examples, we trimmed the sentences without losing their intent or meaning.
Filler: Wordy Sentences
Wordy sentences can obscure the meaning of your content. Complex sentence structures make it difficult for your audience to follow your ideas. Readers grow tired of your content and leave your website.
What makes a sentence wordy?
- Writing in the passive voice, not the active voice
- Adding phrases to accentuate a point
- Formulating complex or abstract ideas
- Using filler words between relevant words
- Redundant words or information
Below are three examples of wordy sentences.
Wordy: Blake quit his job on account of the fact that the manager of the sales department continuously showed how mean was to him.
Concise: Blake quit his job because the sales manager was mean to him.
Wordy: There are numerous opportunities that a student of astronomy can take in a viewing of the stars that are located out in the far reaches of space.
Concise: An astronomy student has many opportunities to view the stars in outer space.
Wordy: Shelley made it a point to speak with her roommate in her dorm at the university in order to address the issue of how dirty her side of the room was on a daily basis.
Concise: Shelley spoke with her college roommate about how messy her side of the room was every day.
Fluff: Adding More Information than Necessary
The primary reason most readers spend less than 30 seconds on a web page is that they have to sift through paragraph after paragraph of useless content to find what they’re looking for.
Readers no longer read web pages. Instead, they scan them to find answers to their questions. If you don’t grab their attention in the first sentence and every sentence after, they’ll never make it past the first paragraph.
You don’t have the luxury of inserting more information than what is needed to hold their attention.
To be specific, here is the fluff that most readers could care less about:
- Your opinions (unless it’s an opinion piece)
- Information that does not stay on point
- Cute language, familiar sayings, slang, witty lines, or complex terminology
- Going off on a tangent, thinking that it will inform the reader even more
- Your personal voice or style of writing
Here are two examples of fluff in web content. In each instance, you will see the difference between needless content and meaningful content that quickly gets to the point.
Fluff: As you design your rental home, you may want to avoid straight fire designs that come and go. Instead, you may want to opt for neutral colors that appeal to a wide range of tenants. It’s not like owning a home where you can do whatever you please and then change your mind later. By choosing neutral colors and creating a clean design, you are likely to find renters faster.
Meaningful Content: As you remodel your rental home, avoid trendy designs that appeal only to a narrow market for a short period. Instead, create a neutral setting that will attract a wider audience and help you secure renters faster.
Note: Telling the reader that they can do whatever they want in their home is fluff. The information does not add value to the article. You should remove it.
Fluff: Springtime is the best time for you to get out. There are plenty of warm days filled with opportunities for you to participate in lots of spring activities. Something you may want to think about, however, is hiring a roofing company to inspect your roof now that the harsh winter is over. Although a roof inspection is a buzz-killer in the springtime, it is an investment in your home.
Meaningful Content: Now that spring is here, you may want to schedule a roof inspection. Heavy snow, ice dams, and freezing temperatures may have damaged your roof during the harsh winter. A roofing contractor can perform a quick, thorough inspection to identify any problems with your roof.
Note: While the opening sentences in Example 1 may initially entertain the reader, the content does not get to the point. The reader will quickly lose interest in the article and move on.
Fluff and Filler are Time Wasters
When you write more content than is necessary for an article, you waste your energy and your time. You also waste the reader’s time. Your website will suffer from high bounce rates, fewer clickthroughs, and lower Google rankings.
You may pride yourself in your unique style and your ability to compose ornate sentences and complex wording. Your audience will dwindle, however, as your sentences do not.
The adage rings as true in content writing as it does anywhere else: Less is more.