Does the level of technicality in written web content help or hurt search rankings for the publishing site?
In other words, is it better for ranking if a site features near-or-at-expert-level terminology, or should bloggers and other content writing professionals aim for more widely accessible content?
Recently, Matt Cutts from Google’s Webspam Team tackled the topic in a YouTube video, and his answer may be a lot simpler than you’d expect.
The Importance of Clarity
First of all, Cutts was tight-lipped about the exact impact that the clarity, or technicality, of your writing has on search rankings. It’s unclear whether or not it is taken into account by Google’s algorithm.
But he does offer one powerful yet common-sense insight: most people conducting searches are lay people. It’s unlikely that they’re searching for the technical terms or jargon that you, as an expert in your field, might want to use in your web content.
Most blog posts, in particular, are opportunities to teach others about a topic. And in teaching someone about something that’s new or unfamiliar to them, it does you no good to fence off their interest in your topic with a wall of imposing jargon and insider talk. Though esoteric language can show your insider’s knowledge to readers who are similarly educated in the subject, it might alienate those who aren’t familiar with the terms you use.
Cutts suggests that it’s wise to find a happy medium when dealing with high-technicality subjects, something that’s between technical and accessible, while maybe placing a little more emphasis on the accessible side.
Pros and Cons of Jargon
Jargon isn’t all bad, and it can actually be used effectively right alongside everyday language.
As noted, most searches are conducted using non-technical lay terms, so when you’re articulating a heavily technical and detailed idea, take the time to define more advanced terms for those who may not be familiar with them.
Also, be aware when your content is moving from known to new information in terms of composition and organization—with “known information,” meaning knowledge we already have, contrasting with the “new information,” we haven’t learned yet. “Known” comes first, and “new” comes second, every time.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t write content that an expert will appreciate. In some cases, you may want to specifically target only experts or those with a high level of knowledge on a particular topic.
Ultimately, your goal should be to communicate effectively to your target audience. Keep them in mind as you write, and you’ll be more likely to drive organic traffic to your site.