In his latest Google Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts answers a great question from a webmaster in Phoenix, Arizona, who wanted clarification for the best depth and style of writing on the web.
Is it better to write as if you are writing for other experts, assuming you are one in your own industry, or is it better to dilute it down in order for people to easily understand and digest what you’ve written? I’m sure there’s a good balance that can be struck, but let’s take a look at what Matt Cutts thinks.
Forget the Jargon
Many would assume that using impressive industry jargon and a scientific approach to writing would be better for both users and search engines, but that’s not true according to the popular face of Google.
Ben Holland from Phoenix, Arizona, asks:
Should I write content that is easier to read or more scientific? Will I rank better if I write for 6th graders?
“This is a really interesting question,” says Matt, before later adding:
If somebody lands on your page and it’s just an opaque wall of scientific stuff, you need to find some way to pull people in, to get them interested and enticed.
I couldn’t agree with Matt more, and I’m so happy to hear this coming from his mouth. Personally, I can’t stand the jargon (or fluff as I call it) in my industry, or any industry actually. It’s all bullshit.
He also talks about Wikipedia and how many of its pages are much too scientific and jargon-driven which means they’re actually not that easy to understand and, more often than not, don’t really provide the real potential value to readers because of this. He’s correct – most readers are not experts after all.
Finally, Matt adds:
I would think about the words that the user is going to type, which is typically going to be the layman’s terms – the regular words rather than the super scientific stuff. You can find ways to include both, but I would try to air on the side of clarity.
There you go – write in the same way that users search, or search is wasted on your website.
This isn’t always true, of course, but it does apply to most.
Write for the Audience
Of course, this set of rules doesn’t apply for all types of websites.
If you’re an expert and you’re writing for other experts, then it’s perfectly fine for you to fire that industry lingo out of your bullshit cannon – all day long, if that’s what makes you happy. But if you’re trying to educate non-experts then it would be a pretty bad idea to write this way as it will almost definitely fall on deaf ears.
Here’s the video: