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Enterprise SEO: Be Careful with Industry Jargon

by Phil Golobish

Geek Out [geek-out] –verb Slang. To engage in a conversation of a highly technical nature, typically with some other members of the party you are with, completely (and usually inadvertently) alienating others in the process. ~ www.UrbanDictionary.com

There’s no fancy way to say it. There’s also not a technical term for it. However, when it comes to search, for better or worse, Slingshot SEO has a tendency to “geek out.”

In many instances, the ability to “geek out” or be highly technical is one of the “better” things about Slingshot. For example, say you’d like to optimize your site for search and it was written in Microsoft’s Classic ASP (which was cutting edge in 1998). No problem. Slingshot has experience optimizing Classic ASP sites. At the time of this post, one such site now ranks in the top two (2) results for a keyword worth over a million (global broad) searches a month.

However, if we’re not careful, Slingshot’s tendency to be highly technical in non-technical situations can sometimes lead to “worse,” albeit comical, situations. For example, I’d bet that many West Coast execs aren’t aware that Midwestern SEOs are actually pronouncing the acronym SERP (search engine results page) and not just trying to slip the word “syrup” into conversation. While they may not apologize for loving Maple flavored condiments, SEO professionals at Slingshot are trying their best to explain and/or limit the use of industry jargon when speaking with clients.

Below are a few more words and phrases that may need explanation in the enterprise board room:

PR – In the SEO industry, “PR” typically refers to the “PageRank” score displayed by Google’s browser toolbar. It does not typically refer to “Public Relations.” Using PR to indicate the value of a web site may not make sense in a room full of marketing executives.

Link Juice – In the search industry, “link juice” typically refers to the virtual amount of trust and authority modern web search engines award to the presence of an HTML link between web pages. It does not typically have anything to do with actual “juice.” Using the phrase “link juice” in a room of executives, without explanation, may award you some confused faces.

Bing – At the time of this post, Microsoft’s Bing search engine holds approximately 30% of the American web search market. However, all too frequently, its primary rival, Google, is the only search engine mentioned in strategy meetings. As SEO professionals, we should be unbiased in our language when communicating with executives or with anyone associated with the profession. Use phrases similar to “Search engines like Google and Bing” when discussing strategy.

Like in any industry, jargon is useful to communicate often used, complex, and sometimes abstract, ideas. However, as SEO professionals that pride themselves on their ability to speak to search engines, we should also be mindful about how to speak to humans. With all the above in mind, savvy SEO consultants and search professionals should be mindful of their audience, limit “geek out sessions,” and use language appropriate for the situation. Have you encountered any situations involving “geeked-out” jargon?

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