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Don’t let internal language keep you from writing good web content

I often see companies use their internal language in their web content. Hold up! If writing good web content is important to you, there are two big reasons to avoid using your own terminology.

First things first, what do I mean by “internal language?”

I’m referring to the words you use internally to describe what you do or what you offer.

Here are a few examples:

  • A national tutoring company that I write web content for refers to their tutors as teachers — and understandably so! Their instructors have extensive qualifications, often far beyond typical tutors.
  • In my years as a Denver copywriter, I’ve worked with several professional service firms that call their services: “business solutions.”
  • A Colorado photographer that I wrote web copy for described her service offerings as “collections.” She despised the phrase: “packages.”

It’s normal to have your own language. It’s often an extension of your brand, your heritage and your aspirations. Sometimes, it’s a way to differentiate your company from your competitors, making your services sound more elite or special.

So what’s the problem with using your own language in your web content?

Your web copy should be VERY easy to understand for people who don’t know your business.

What makes perfect sense to you because you hear your language every day may not make perfect sense to your website visitors.

A great rule to keep in mind for your readers is:

“Don’t make me think.”

In other words, if writing good web content is important to you, make it as easy as possible for your visitors to understand what you’re talking about.

Don’t give people a reason to leave your website.

When you use your internal language, you run the risk of confusing or frustrating your visitors.

Several years ago, I partnered with a wedding photographer to write her web copy. Her photography was beautiful and deeply artistic… as was the way she spoke. Poetic and sentimental, she had a language all to her own. (Think “transcendence,” “journalistic discovery” and “outward expressions of joy.”)

The challenge was, her terminology was difficult to understand in writing.

Working together, we were able to able to find a happy medium. I combined her unique voice with more straightforward language, so her visitors could understand what she was talking about.

The other reason I used straightforward language was because she wanted to rank well on search engines.

If search engine optimization (SEO) is important to you, your web content also should be written for robots.

There are many factors that influence where your website ranks in the search engines.

However, if you’re using terminology that people are not searching for, you’re putting your business at a disadvantage.

It’s important to write good web content for search engine robots, as well as people.

Search engines send out robots − known as “crawlers” or “spiders” − to crawl through your website’s code and store pieces of information. Then, when people search for specific keyword phrases, the search engines use special algorithms to decide which pages will appear in the search engine rankings.

(Want to learn more? Check out this article from web experts, Moz, for a good explanation of how search engines work.)

As Moz will tell you, it’s best to have language on your website that’s rich with keywords that people search for… and that’s where internal language can be a detriment.

Remember the tutoring company I told you about earlier in this article?

Ultimately, when choosing language for their website, they decided to consistently refer to their teachers as “tutors.” Why? Because when parents want a resource to help their children catch up in school or get ahead, they search for tutors, not teachers.

Two side notes here…

One, this wasn’t an easy decision for the tutoring company. They feel very strongly about the caliber of their instructors and their use of the word: “teachers.”

If you’re struggling with the decision to let go of your internal language, you aren’t alone.

Two, some of my clients ask me if they can use both the keyword phrase and their own terminology in their web copy. I won’t say you should never do it. However, in my experience, this can become quite confusing for your visitors, so it’s best to avoid it.

Use consistent terminology across your website, when possible.

More tips on writing good web content

Want more tips on writing good web copy, as well as how to avoid web writing pitfalls? Check out these articles:

Want help writing good web content from a professional copywriter? Please explore my brand writing services.

Until next time!