250 Web Content Ideas … for starters

250 Web Content Ideas

There really is NO excuse for dreary, yawn-inducing web content.

But how often have you landed on a site, only to do a fast exit because the content was atrocious, boring, weird, pointless…  You probably have your own favorite adjective for the stuff you’ve seen masquerading as web content.

When a new client contacts me, one of the questions I’m often asked is, “What sort of content should I put on my site?”

My stock answer is it should always be:

  • Customer (or reader) focused
  • Well written
  • Fabulous quality
  • Giving the customer something of value (well they’re giving you their precious time)

So if you’re pondering what to add to your web site, let me give you a few ideas to play with.  I’ve compiled a list of over 250 Web Content Ideas that you can use online or in print.

I’ve tried to include terms you and I often use when describing content, so some topics may seem a tad similar.

I had fun pulling this list together and it’s not finished … an expanded version is in the pipeline as I write. And if I’ve missed something that you think should be on this list, let me know and I’ll add it.

You can download your list here:  250 Web Content Ideas

I hope you find inspiration somewhere on this list.

 

Lauren Mackenzie is a web content & commercial copywriter
lauren@thewritevintage.com

 

 

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30th April …

Here’s a VERY random selection of thought-provoking, horrifying and sometimes funny events that have happened on the 30th of April through the years.

1803
The USA doubled in size through the Louisiana Purchase (Bought from France for $15 million approx.)

1808
The first working typewriter was built by the Italian Pellegrino Turri. It’s said he created this for his blind lover, Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzano, to enable her to write to him when they were apart.  Some of her letters still survive.

1859
Victorian writer Charles Dickens’ “A Tale Of Two Cities” started to appear in weekly printed instalments.

1885
The fabulous Boston Pops Orchestra was formed.

1896
The first ice cream cone was produced by immigrant Italo Marchiony, who arrived in New York City from Italy.  His delicious creation was granted a patent in December 1903.

Baskets of Ice Cream Cones

Image:  pixshark.com

1900
American folk hero Casey Jones died in a train wreck in Mississippi, while trying to make up time on the Cannonball Express and a TV series was later created about him.    And Boxcar Willie’s version of the Wabash Cannonball with some wonderful trains.

1920
The British Government ended military conscription 

1939
The First Regular Television Service was launched in the States with President Franklin D. Roosevelt appearing on television for the opening of the New York World’s Fair.

1943
Operation Mincemeat.
The British submarine HMS Seraph secretly planted the corpse of  ‘the man who never was’ into the Mediterranean sea off the coast of Spain.  False papers had been planted on the body to deceive the German High Command into thinking that the Allied Forces were invading Sardina and the Balkans.  They actually invaded Sicily and the deception worked.  It’s a fascinating story and worth reading the book Operation Mincemeat  by Ben Macintyre 

1943
The infamous Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp was opened – Anne Frank, the young author of Diary of Anne Frank, would die here two years later, just before her 16th birthday.  (She wrote her diary while she was in hiding with seven others in occupied Holland).

1945
After being married for only one day, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide.  One week later Germany surrendered unconditionally.

1948
The fabulous Land Rover Series I appeared for the first time at the Amsterdam Car Show.  It had four-wheel drive and was created from original Rover car components including the 1.6 engine from the Rover P3 60 saloon.

1950
Babe Didrikson-Zaharias wins LPGA 144-hole golf  competition at Weathervane, Massachusetts.    She was America’s first female golf celebrity and in 1946 won the U.S. Women’s Amateur event.  In 1947 she won the British Ladies Amateur title and turned professional later that year.  In 1948 she became the first woman to attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open.  However, not surprisingly, her application was rejected by the USGA – who stated it was a men only event.   She went on to become a founding member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association.

1952
Mr Potato Head was the first toy to be advertised on TV.

1955
West German unions protested for a 40-hour work week & higher wages (and the fight continues today).

1961
Premier Fidel Castro of Cuba received the Lenin Peace Prize.

1968
The top 3 songs in the U.K. charts were:

Louis Armstrong – What A Wonderful World 
Cliff Richard – Congratulations  
Tom Jones – Delilah   (My wonderful friend Julia’s all-time favourite song … Go Julia)

1975
Following the fall of Saigon, South Vietnam surrendered unconditionally to North Vietnam and the war in Vietnam was over.  The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army and Government were now in control.

1977
Led Zeppelin set a new record for audience numbers by performing in front of 77,229 fans at a single-act concert in Michigan, USA.
Almost twenty years later, in 1994, Rod Stewart performed at a New Year concert on Copcabana Beach, Brazil with an estimated audience of 3,500,000 fans.

1986
Ashrita Furman peformed 8,341 somersaults over 12 miles  He holds more records than any human being alive and currently holds the most Guiness World Records.

1993
During a quarter final tennis match in Hamburg, Monica Seles was stabbed in the back by a man who leant over a barrier beside her.  She made a full recovery after a few months.

2000
The fabulous Ridley Scott film Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix was released.

2010
Belgium’s parliament voted for a law to ban the wearing of the Islamic full face burqa in public. The law banned any clothing that obscured  the identity of the wearer in public places like parks, public transport and on the street.

2010
On this day, the first oil that escaped during the Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster reached the beaches of the Louisiana Coast.

2015
You read my very random curated list of 30th April events.  Thank you.

If you’ve got an event you’d like to add to this list, share it in the comments below.

 

Lauren Mackenzie is a
Web Content Copywriter.
Get in touch at lauren@thewritevintage.com

 

 

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Do You Remember Pi?

Think back to your early school days.  Sitting in the Math class learning about that mystical, irrational number which is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter or “pi r squared”.

Yes that pi.

And today, Saturday March 14th 2015 is (unofficially) Pi Day,  mostly celebrated in countries that use the month/date format.

Not only that, it’s a very special pi day that occurs only once each century because for a brief moment in time, at 9.26.53 am to be precise, in numerical format it will be the first ten consecutive digits of pi – 3 14 15 9 26 53.

HISTORY OF Pi

Pi is a very old number.

In 1706, an English mathematician, William Jones, was the first person to use the Greek letter Pi for the number.  In the Greek alphabet, Pi (π) stands for ‘perimeter’.

From history books, we know that ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Hebrews, and Babylonians knew about its existence and their mathematicians had worked out that it was approximately 3.  The Bible sets it at exactly 3.

Curiously, scientists investigating the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza discovered that its perimeter ratio is approximately twice pi, demonstrating that the builders knew of and used this formula.

It’s an infinite decimal – in other words, you’ll never get to the end of it.  In 2013 computer scientists worked it out to 3 plus more than 13 trillion digits.

Even Einstein got in on the act.

His General Theory of Relativity states that pi can’t be created precisely by simply measuring a circle, because we live in a curved universe.  And circles can never factor out to pi on a curved surface.  However, pi is always the same number, no matter which circle you use to compute it.

Albert Einstein

Pi FUN FACTS

  • Some people celebrate by waking up at exactly 9.26.53 am
  • Lots of pies are eaten in honour of Pi, some decorated with the π symbol
  • Daniel Tammet, an amazing autistic savant, set a European record after reciting from memory, 22,514 consecutive pi digits in 5 hrs 9 mins – with no mistakes
  • This quirky website lets you find your birthday using the first 200 million digits
  • A couple of Artists, Martin Krzywinski and Cristian Ilies Vasile created a fabulous Archimedean spiral by giving each pi digit a colour and used the first 13,689 to create the spiral
  • Google search ‘digits of Pi’ to find endless lists of computer calculations for pi.  Really?
  • On the World Science Festival website you can test your knowledge with their Pi Day quiz
  • It has even featured in an episode of Star Trek.  Spock tells an evil computer to compute pi to the last digit (which is highly illogical – Spock’s favourite phrase) thereby destroying the nasty computer.

If, like me, you decided pi was one of those necessary evils you needed to know about to pass your school exams, but couldn’t ever imagine using, then you’d be wrong.  Pi is actually used in everyday situations.

  • In navigation: planes flying long distances actually follow the arc of a circle and need to calculate fuel, distance, weather accurately
  • GPS uses Pi to help you find your location
  • It’s used in geometry to calculate areas or arc lengths
  • It’s used to calculate signals ie radar, television, radio
  • Engineers use it to represent unknown factors in testing and simulation projects

Pi SYMBOL

If you want to type the pi symbol on your PC,  hold down the Alt key and type 227.

On a Mac hold down the Alt/Option key and type P.

AND FINALLY

If you’re a lover of coincidences and quirky facts, you might like to know that today,  3/14,  is also Albert Einstein’s birthday and 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of his General Theory of Relativity.

 

 

Lauren Mackenzie is a
web content and

business communications writer
Image credit: tuningpp.com

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BEWARE the domain name scam

During the weekend an odd email appeared in my inbox which read as follows:

Dear Manager

(If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward this to your CEO, thanks)
This email is from China domain name registration center, which mainly deal with the domain name registration in China.  We received an application from Dehua Ltd on March 2nd 2015.
They want to register my business name.com as their internet keyword and China/Asia domain names.  But after checking it, we find this name conflicts with your company.  In order to deal with this matter better, so we send you email and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China or not?

Best regards
Abby Wang

After reading it, my immediate reaction was “SCAM”.

However, as it contained my domain name, I decided to investigate further.

Fiction vs. Fact

As you’ve probably guessed, my first discovery was that the domain name registration center didn’t exist and that the city named in their address, was not a city at all but actually a large northern province of China.

Dehua Ltd, the company apparently wanting to use my business name could be connected to a television station, porcelain manufacturer, Alibaba gold supplier and a Canadian coal and metal mining group.  Take your pick.

Digging deeper, I uncovered lots of comments on this scam and variations of it from Europe, the USA and Australia and that it has been going since 2010.

The emails originate from the Shanghai area of China, under different domain names, all using the Jiangsu Bangning Science & Technology Co Ltd as their registrar and they have various  ladies names masquerading as the sender e.g. Tiffany Dai, Angela Zhang and of course my friend, Abby Wang.

How it works

On one scam blog, I found a story from a German retailer.  Out of curiosity, he decided to play along with them to see how it would develop.  Very quickly, the emails became more hostile, throwing up red flags and dire consequences for his business if he didn’t agree to let them register him as the owner of the domain name.

At this point, the real purpose of the scam emerged as they aggressively demanded his bank and credit card information, “to allow them to register his details and safeguard business”.

The emotional sting

What makes this scam successful is that it mentions your business domain name, and in so doing immediately makes the email very personal.   I know from my own reaction, you instantly become defensive and want to protect your domain name and your business.

Sadly, during my search, I discovered a few who commented on receiving this email, and who also admitted they had paid to safeguard their domain name and ended up losing a lot of money.

And the retailer in Germany?   

Eventually, he told them he had recorded their IP address, registrant and admin details and had passed their information to the Chinese Government with a complaint about their method of business.

That was in 2012 and he hasn’t heard from them since…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Lauren Mackenzie is an
independent web content
& business writer

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Are you ready for NaNoWriMo?

November is an important month on the writer’s calendar.

It’s the National Novel Writing Month when thousands of aspiring and established writers start writing a new novel.

The challenge is to write 50,000 words during the month of November.

While writing a good story is far more important than the final word count, 50,000 words is a HUGE challenge when you’re also working full-time, running a home and looking after kids, studying or doing anything else that needs a large time commitment.Girl writing

However, as I highlighted in last year’s blog post, that challenge is gleefully taken up by writers around the globe every November… and this year is no exception.

If you’re thinking about flexing your fingers and starting that novel that’s been smouldering deep inside you for some time, explore the NaNoWriMo website for inspiration.

You can also look for a writing group close to you and make some new writing buddies along the way.

These groups can be a lifeline when your ideas start to fizzle out, the words won’t work or you just need a bit of writing TLC. Lots of these meet-ups take place in local coffee houses, book stores, libraries and other great venues and who knows, you may find you write better in some of these locations.

If you’re still having doubts, then read Joel Cunningham’s blog post on the Barnes & Noble Book blog about the eight bestsellers that have been created during NaNoWriMo.

So make 2014 the year you start writing that novel.

You never know what you can achieve… until you try.

Lauren Mackenzie is an
independent web content
& business writer
photo credit: Slaff via photopin cc

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Once upon a time there was a United Kingdom

On 01 May 1707 the Acts of Union joined together the Kingdoms of Scotland and England into one single United Kingdom. On 01 January 1801, Ireland joined them . Wales was already there, having been annexed to England in 1284.

Together we became one of the foremost colonial powers in the world. Feared and admired by many.

Over the past 300 years, we’ve found a way of all working together. There are many places in the world that look at us with envy as they’re still trying to achieve this.

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

In Scotland we already have the best of both worlds: we have our own cultural identity, our own education system, our own laws and court structure and since 1999, our own parliament.

However, we also have the security and strength that comes from being a part of the United Kingdom.

Do we really want to give this up?

We’ve overcome a hell of a lot to get to where we are today. Yes, we’ve got a love-hate relationship – but watch how strong it is when our backs are against the wall.

Who’s going to watch our back if we become independent?

We’re a tiny country. Only 5.5 million of us compared to 64 million in the United Kingdom.

INDEPENDENCE … sort of

It’s interesting to observe that Salmond and Sturgeon don’t really want complete independence.

True independence would mean cutting ourselves free and floating off into the murky grey mists of the North Sea and the unknown.

No.

  • They want to keep the Queen
  • Stay with NATO (if NATO agrees)
  • Continue to use the pound as our currency (with or without permission according to Salmond)
  • Stay in the EU (if all 28 member nations agree)

And, on being asked a question about Scots with family living in the rest of the UK, Sturgeon replied to one OAP that “we will still remain a part of the family of nations.”

Do you really believe that Nicola?

UNITED

Bob Geldof said in his speech yesterday in London,

“Before there was a United States, before there was a United Nations, before there was a united this, that and the other there was a United Kingdom and it was an extraordinary meeting of very different minds of two extremely close cousins.

“Between the native genius of the Scots and the pure pragmatic drive of the English we made a world beater. “

As a United Kingdom we can still be a world beater.

So let’s all think very, very carefully before marking that X

United_Kingdom_flag_map

Lauren Mackenzie is a
freelance web content
and business writer

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Is Sitting Bad for Your Health?

Yes it is.

And a recent study by Daniela Schmid and Dr. Michael Leitzmann of the University of Regensburg in Germany proves it.

The buzz phrase you’ve probably heard is, “sitting is the new smoking” for computer users.  But health issues linked to sitting all day are not a new discovery.

In the 17th century, Bernardino Ramazzini, an Italian physician, studied the health problems of workers who spent hours in one particular position.  Years later he wrote a book on his findings, Diseases of Workers and as a result became known as “the father of occupational medicine.”


The Descent of Man

Fast forward to today and with more and more of us spending upwards of eight hours every day hunched over a screen, it’s essential we adapt our working days to include more movement.

“If you are sitting for six hours a day or more it increases the risk factors for a variety of things,” says Dr. David Geier, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in Charleston, South Carolina.

It’s too easy to get so engrossed in your work, or cruising your social media messages, that two or three hours zoom past with your body scrunched up in one position.

So, stand up right now.

Did you hear your joints creaking and popping?

If you’re nodding your head then you need to start using some of these suggestions to keep your body moving throughout the day.

Breaks

Take them frequently and make it a habit.

  • Use the Pomodoro technique
  • e.ggtimer.com is another handy timer you can set for any length of time you choose
  • Use the alarm on your phone or tablet

Stretch

Every hour stand up from your chair and stretch, or if possible, walk around for 5 minutes to get the blood flowing.

Breathe

Take some deep breaths. Sitting hunched over your computer causes shallow breathing and is especially bad if you have any respiratory problems.
Deep breathing –

  • Gets more oxygen to your heart, brain and eyes
  • Reduces muscle tension
  • Improves your concentration, brain processes and increases creativity
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Helps your digestion
  • Makes you relax and feel better

Squat

Drop some paperclips or staples on the floor beside your desk and pick them up one at a time.

Stand

When you talk on the phone. It burns more calories, improves posture and your voice.

Try standing and working at your computer.

  • Some users have switched from sitting at a desk to standing. While this does offer benefits, it can bring other problems especially if you have any back issues or leg circulation problems.
  • The most effective solution – alternating between both. There are several new desk designs that enable you to raise your computer to standing height.
  • If you work from home and don’t have an adjustable desk, improvise.  Put a box or a stack of large books on your desk and put your laptop or keyboard on top.  Adjust the height until its comfortable and there’s no strain on your arms or wrists.

good-posture-at-workstation

Balance

Sit on an exercise ball.

If you have a desk that has a pull-out computer tray, you can sit comfortably on a ball while you work. It’s a superb workout as you are constantly shifting and working your core muscles. You also have to sit straighter so it works your posture too.

Beware you can also fall backwards if you roll a bit too enthusiastically, like I did the first time I tried this.

Step up

If you have stairs at work, use them.

If you work from home and can find even one step, use it like the old-fashioned school bench gym exercise. Step up and down as fast as you can and do reps of 20.

Walk walk walk

Whether it’s early morning, a quick lunchtime stroll or a walk home from work in the evening. Walk every day if you can. Studies have proven it reduces blood pressure, stress, fatigue and susceptibility to certain types of cancers.  It makes you breathe deeper and you can alternate between strolling and power-walking.

Improvise and Exercise

Do exercise in short sessions and use what you have available.

  • I use 1 litre bottles of water to exercise my arms and shoulders for 5 minutes
  • Do press ups against the wall or on the edge of your desk
  • Do imaginary skipping to your favourite fast track – believe me it works up a sweat and gets your heart rate up

Eyes

Don’t neglect your eyes.  Check out Keyboard Athletes for great eye exercise tips to use while working on your computer.

 

And these help too…

Comfort

  • Use wrist supports
  • Use an anti-glare screen
  • Get an adjustable ergonomic chair

Posture

  • Be aware of how much you slouch
  • Adjust your working area to reduce strain on your body
  • Learn yoga
  • GET ACTIVE any way that works for you

slouch

Water

And don’t forget to stay hydrated.  Keep a large water bottle at your desk. Sip regularly and fill it up at least twice during the day.

Over to you

If your work has you sitting most of the day, what do you do to keep your body from seizing up?  Add your suggestions below.

Lauren Mackenzie is a freelance
web content & business writer
at thewritevintage.com

 

 

Images: www.thejuniperchiropracter.com / www.dumblittleman.com

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My spellchequer is all ways write

This little gem was originally composed in 1991 by Dr Jerrold Zar and later expanded by Mark Eckman.

Candidate for a Pullet Surprise

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong

Eye have run this poem threw it
Your shore reel glad two no
Its vary polished in it’s weigh.
My chequer tolled me sew

A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when eye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o’er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.

Bee fore a veiling checker’s
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if we’re lacks oar have a laps,
We wood bee maid too wine.

Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know fault’s with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a wear.

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mist dew the best wee can,
Sew flaw’s are knot aloud.

Sometimes called “Ode to the Spellchecker” or “Spellchecker Blues”, you’ll find various versions floating around the Web.

Hope it made you smile.

 Lauren Mackenzie is a freelance
web copy & business writer
at thewritevintage.com

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Google Analytics goes mobile

Hey, in case you missed it, you can now access your Google Analytics data, anytime, anywhere, via a mobile app for phones and tablets.

The app is free from Play Store (Android) and iTunes (iOS) and is really easy to use, has smooth navigation and so far I can’t find a downside with it.  Let me know if you’ve found something you can’t do.

If you don’t use or know about this powerful tool, Google Analytics first arrived on the scene in November 2005 as a way of measuring the impact of marketing campaigns on websites.  Over the years it has become more sophisticated and is now one of the high-end industry standards for website performance analysis.

If you have a web presence, Google Analytics is a useful way of discovering how people use your site.  Example of Google Analytics dashboard

For example, you can find out how they got there, the type of device they used, their location worldwide and what your visitors looked for. You get page view figures and can easily see which pages get most traffic and conversely those that never get viewed.

This data enables you to improve your site performance and, if you’re running a marketing campaign, focus your strategy on specific areas.

You can install Google Analytics yourself, even if you don’t have the expertise of a webmaster on hand. Here’s how to do it:

  • Sign up for a Google Analytics account
  • Click on Admin in the top menu bar
  • Click on Tracking info
  • Click on Tracking code and a box will appear, containing a small string of HTML.  It will start and end with the word <script>
  • You’ll also see your unique tracking ID number.  It will look something like this: XY-13579246-9
  • If you’re using a content management system for your site, you may only have to paste the tracking ID number into a specific area
  • Alternatively, you may have to copy & paste the complete tracking code into the HTML source code on every page of your website that you want to track
  • Paste the HTML string immediately before the closing tag </head> in the HTML source code on your page
  • Wait 24-48 hours before logging back into your account, to allow their servers to update with your site details

Note:  Your site should have instructions for adding Google Analytics tracking code.  If not, you’ll find lots of useful advice on the GA help pages.

This little piece of code / tracking ID is the magic formula that turns what would otherwise be complicated gobbledygook (to most of us)  into graphs, timelines, heat maps and other pivotal data about your site.

Yes, the first few times you log onto your dashboard, it may seem a bit overpowering but it’s worth taking the time to study how Google Analytics works and to understand what you’re reading.

Play with it.

Figure out how to create customized report sets for your own particular purpose.

Do all that and you’ll learn how to increase visitor traffic to your blog or supercharge your marketing campaign… and who would say “No” to that?

If you’re already a seasoned GA user, do you have any special tricks or features you think are awesome and we should know about?

Lauren Mackenzie is a freelance
web copy & business writer
at thewritevintage.com

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