Why Overusing a Thesaurus Doesn’t Help Your SEO
In the fifth grade I began reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. My English teacher at the time saw this, and told me that I was reading at a university level. I was flattered; I’d never been “exceptional” at anything, so I let it get to my head. In high school I wrote poems and stories using complicated words in the hopes of sounding smart. Now, as an adult, I understand one basic truth: big words don’t make you look smart—anyone, even an SEO specialist, can use a thesaurus. Today, I’m going to explain how good content marketing can benefit from simple language.
Simple English is Accessible English
Not everyone has access to a post-secondary education (even those that do don’t necessarily study English). Not everyone speaks English as their first language. And for people with disorders like dyslexia, an obsession with over-the-top language is frustrating at best. But just about anyone can become your client, no matter their language skills. If you want to reach the widest audience possible, then find a simple, clean, and direct way of getting your point across.
Don’t Be Pretentious
Unless you’re stuck with an awkward SEO keyword that forces you to craft weird, old-fashioned sentences (we’ve all been there), then you want to avoid pretentious language or style. It’s not impressive—it’s just annoying. Unnecessary passive voice? Don’t do it. Archaic words? Leave them in the past. French or Latin words when there’s a perfectly good English substitute? Please, stop trying to show off. As for jargon? Well, every rule has an exception…
If it’s a client content marketing project then you need to familiarize yourself with their identity, and find their voice. Sometimes that voice includes industry-specific language that might otherwise be considered pretentious or jargon. In these cases, your audience is usually already familiar with the subject matter and knows the lingo. But even then, I still recommend writing as simply as possible. Because…
You Will Sound Smarter
Not to mention more trustworthy. Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough,” and I couldn’t agree more. Being able to strip something down to its simplest version shows people you know it well. It makes you look like a trusted authority on the subject, and that is indispensable (like, really, really valuable) in marketing, whether it involves SEO or not. People want expert services—so show them that you’re the expert. This also means editing your work and making any cuts you can.
Most of all, make your content marketing conversational. Read a sentence aloud to see how it feels. Chances are, if you can hardly say it, your audience will feel the same way reading it.