The United States government recently announced a new mandate demanding that federal agencies toss the jargon out the window and write in “plain language” so that bills and rulings become more accessible to average citizens.
While I don’t see the Harper government making a similar decision in Canada any time soon, I see an opportunity for businesses to follow suit here. And that includes any content development company, search engine optimization firm or, really, any business that deploys SEO.
Note that I used the term “search engine optimization” before diving right into the acronym SEO. If I didn’t spell it out, I’d be putting the concept in a very exclusive manner, literally excluding anyone who wasn’t familiar with the acronym. It’s an extremely bad habit. Not using plain language may target more of a niche audience but it absolutely shrinks your audience and, more importantly, greatly limits your chance of attracting new readers or “laymen” potentially seeking out your services.
Think about an industry like search engine optimization. How many TLAs – three letter acronyms – and buzz terms do we throw around today? PPC instead of pay-per-click. ROI instead of return on investment. CTR instead of click-through rate, bounce rate, and so on.
But SEO-oriented businesses aren’t the only culprits. Businesses of all sorts make the same mistakes, using too many “insider” terms. From a search-engine perspective, any company that does that is shooting itself in the foot. Think about how many layman users out there may want to learn more about your company’s offerings but only type in layman-type search terms when they use Google or Bing. If you don’t have enough plain language on your own site, you won’t have plain-language keywords – and people won’t find you in organic search results!
A counter argument could suggest that using insider keywords would attract a more knowledgeable type of user who is more likely to engage your site, click through and possibly purchase your products or services. But it’s not a one-or-the-other thing (wanted to say mutually exclusive but stopped myself!). You can have both plain language and expert terms on your site. Just make sure you ease readers into the more advanced content by explaining things clearly first.
So, ladies and gents, if you want to greatly increase your web traffic, whether or not you’re writing for SEO purposes, keep the language plain and simple!
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This entry was posted on Monday, May 30th, 2011 at 6:28 pm and is filed under Plain Language Writing, SEO, Web Writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.