Words, damn words and search engine keywords
"Write your content for your target audience." Good advice to be sure, but what does it mean in the context of a website.
I don't have a degree in literature or marketing, I can't do a cryptic crossword to save my life, but I know the value of words. Words are the primary building block of communication. Sure there are other factors that can be used, such as body language, sound and images, but so much of our communication is based on words.
When it comes to a medium like a website, the role of language becomes even more critical. Images and even sound can be used to enhance the experience, but the critical elements are best delivered in words. How else do you establish price or location? A picture may be worth a thousand words, but how does a picture convey hard disk capacity or physical dimension of an object? How do you show your environmental credentials, the warranty period of a product or the age of your business. Each industry has a different set of circumstances and requirements, and all need to make statements about the products or services they represent. Words are the lifeblood.
Stop stating the "bleeding obvious"! Get on with it!
I know I may be labouring the point about words. Not only do words help deliver a message to customers (potential and current), they create an essential link between the search engines and our websites. The problem is we sometimes forget the different perspectives that exist between the searcher and the website writer.
When a website is built it is usually written by technical experts, used to speaking in industry jargon, acronyms and abbreviations. These websites wind up full of the technical language of the experts. Don't get me wrong there is a place for it, particularly if the customers of the website are technically oriented. How often is this true?
The common searchers in the search engines are looking for "termite inspection", "new tile roof" or whatever everyday situation confronts them. They don't use phrases like "pest eradication and management service" or "residential clay based roofing material". Search engines do an excellent job of recognising bad spelling, plurals and synonyms to present a viable range of candidate websites for consideration. In reality, the closer the match between the search term with a keyword or phrases on a website, the higher that website appears in the search results. Search Engines struggle to match marketing babble with everyday language. Keep the language technical if your audience is technical, but technical language should never dominate the writing if your target audience is not technical, or you may be waiting a long time for someone to knock on your website door.
"Write your content for your target audience." Good writers know who their target audience is and the language used. They stray outside that target audience and its constraints at their peril.
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