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Monday, August 28, 2006

Nielsen: Simple English Is Good SEO

Usability guru Jakob Nielsen says you’ll benefit from using simple, familiar words in writing because that’s what users search for, too. Nielsen argues this includes avoiding politically correct terms such as “visually challenged” because most searchers will query for “blind” or “low-vision.” He says:

It’s tempting to coin new terms because you can own the positioning if the term catches on. But, more likely, people will continue to use their old terminology. It’s long been a usability guideline to avoid made-up words in navigation menus, because users scan them for words they know. In full-text content, you can include new words for effect, but make sure to supplement them with legacy words – that is, words that your customers know and use in everyday business practice.

One thing to keep in mind though; as soon as you end up writing for bots instead of humans, chances are low people like your writing enough to link to it, which in turn harms rankings. Then again, a global audience may prefer simpler English, especially in microcontent such as headlines or introductory paragraphs (which need to be written so they can be quickly scanned, even out of context).


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