Top 10: Marketese – Marketing words to avoid

Don’t use meaningless marketing words like ‘best’, ‘greatest’ or ‘incredible’. People are smart (mostly), and if not smart then they’re sceptical. When writing for the web (or any marketing copy) using words like ‘the best…’ or ‘amazing’ is a waste of space and damages your keyword ratio.

Ceefax predicts mobile web: Jakob Neilsen declares BBC world’s best headline writers

The latest article by Jakob Nielsen, the living legend of usability who publishes regularly on a web developers’ treasure trove and graphic designers’ nightmare of a website, declares the BBC News website as the epitome of great web writing. This is true, and a well established fact, that the headline writers at the BBC succinctly encapsulate a story in such clarity in the space of four words that viewing their RSS feed you never need to read a newspaper again (sort of). What I found more interesting though was the off hand reference to Ceefax as the historical evidence that the BBC has always been good at writing effectively and efficiently.

Curve of clarity: Picking the right keywords

Choosing the right words to fill your webpage, or keywords for your ad campaigns can sometimes be hit or miss. Using the ‘curve of clarity’ as an idea, you should be able to choose appropriate keywords to maximise seo efficiency and also the readability and relevance of your site.

Key principles

  1. Words in common usage have high numbers of search engine results.
  2. Words which are specialist have lower numbers of search engine results.
  3. Marketese words, or words which mean one thing but are given a different meaning for marketing, business lingo or general jargon, have high search engine results when searching those terms, but low search engine presence when searching for the term those words actually mean in plain English. (See also: Plain English to help SEO and note that marketese increases bounce rates)

Examples

  1. cat: 905,000,000 results.
  2. abyssinian: 985,000 results.
  3. lap warmer: 62,800 results.

Curve of Clarity

 The curve of clarity has an arbitary scale, but you’ll get the general idea:

Quick steps to improving readability (Reflections on GCD post)

As well as a couple of simple steps to take to improve readability of sites (below), this is just a short post to flag up an article I found recently by Gail Diggs at GCD Marketing: When “Bad Writing” is Good. Essentially, the old rules of copy writing are “thrown out the window” because of the way that users read text on screen in short, scanning ways and are often impatient to find the next web page to read. This compared to the paper-based format of ‘leisure reading’.

Plain English to help SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

The highlight of the week just gone was the issuing of 200 banned words by the GLA: BBC News Story, List of Banned Words. This reminded me of the importance of plain english, the sort that the Plain English Campaign hark on about. These people write some very useful guides which help those writing for the web avoid inane jargon and write normally. The principle is straightforward when applying plain English to websites: