A virtual assistant is frequently asked to write or rewrite all kinds of material – anything from a letter on up to a book. Using thesaurus resources can ensure that your material is content rich. Learn firsthand what a thesaurus is and what it’s used for.
If you are a virtual assistant, undoubtedly you will eventually have a client that wishes you to rewrite something he or she may have penned or typed. It’s not always an easy task to find just the right words to capture the essence of what is being said in an interesting and accurate manner. Now is the time to make your articles rich in content by using a thesaurus.
What Is a Thesaurus
What is it you might ask? A thesaurus is just the tool you need; it’s a book that has a classified list of synonyms. You remember what a synonym is from your days in English class at school, right? According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, a synonym is :
a book in which words that have the same or similar meanings are grouped together.
Examples of synonyms in this sense are “environment” and “surroundings” and the verbs “tear” and “rip.”
Why Use a Thesaurus
So why is a thesaurus useful in making your content rich when you are content marketing? For one thing, if you replace words with synonyms, your content might just grab and keep the reader’s interest that much longer. You’ve all heard that you only have thirty seconds to stimulate a reader’s natural curiosity so they dive deeper into your article. (Revision – if you type in “how many seconds to capture reader’s interest,” you will see many references to the fact that it is now down to eight seconds. Wow!
Another reason is you want to avoid keyword stuffing. What’s that? Google explains it this way:
“Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results.
One of the examples that Google uses is,
Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural, for example:
We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at email@example.com.
What are some good thesaurus resources out there that you can use online? I will discuss three here. Don’t take my word as gospel, however; do a search in your favorite search engine under “thesaurus resources.” I want you to have the freedom to make up your own mind as to which one will work the best for you.
Unless I’m working on a laptop, the very first thesaurus that I use all the time is WordWeb. WordWeb is a free English thesaurus and dictionary software download for Windows. Why do I like it? Just check out some of the things it can help you with:
* Definitions and synonyms
* Proper nouns
* Related words
* 150 000 root words
* 120 000 synonym sets
* Looks up words in almost any program
What makes WordWeb so useful is that you have the ability to use a combination of the Ctrl + Alt + the W keys on your computer keyboard to have the program open on your desktop. This saves immeasurable time and is even faster than the next program I am going to talk about.
Update: I no longer use WordWeb, even though it is still available online. Occasionally I will use Thesaurus.com; however I mostly find that the thesaurus in Microsoft Word is sufficient for me. Depending on which version of Word you are using, it might also say Synonyms.
Remember I mentioned that I work on a laptop? One of the disadvantages of doing so is that a laptop will not have as much memory as a desktop so I do not tend to download a lot of software. What I have discovered is that Microsoft Office Word 2007 has a built-in thesaurus. How do you kick it into gear? To give you a simple explanation, say I want to change the word gear in my previous sentence to something else. I would right click on the word gear and scroll down to Look Up, left click with your mouse on the words Look Up and voilà! (Again, this step will depend on which version of Word you are using.) It will automatically default to All Reference Books, but that is easy to change. Just click on the down arrow next to All Reference Books and change it to Thesaurus: English (You can also choose French or Spanish).
(Revision – Microsoft Word 365 also has a built-in thesaurus. Highlight the word you need a synonym for, right-click on the word with your mouse, scroll down to Synonyms and click on the arrow next to it to display your choices.)
Update: I would like to note here that if you already have Merriam-Webster open online, they also have a thesaurus, medical dictionary and an encyclopedia that you can use, as well as a Spanish Central category.
Thesaurus Resources Rule
A virtual assistant or anyone that is writing and/or proofreading has to be thrifty in their use of time, as well as being the best of the best. Oftentimes, there will be resources available to us that we don’t even know that can save us an immense amount of work. One of those resources is a good thesaurus. Good thesaurus resources can not only save us time, they can provide us with synonyms that will help us write and rewrite articles, blogs, press releases, eBooks, etc., that are award-winning. Not only that, thesaurus resources can help us make our material rich in content! In other words, thesaurus resources rule!
What is your favorite?
Pam Lokker is a master writer and a virtual assistant professional who enjoys writing. While we are not currently taking on new clients, Borlok Virtual Assistants, LLC has been the place to get global expert VA services with quality and on-time delivery for many years.