Do you have an acrimonious relationship with acronyms? For the sake of your content, you should!

Avoid Acronyms in Content
Every company has acronyms. The shortened words or pet terms that describe products, processes and systems. If you are part of the company, it is a language you understand. Unfortunately, the audience you trying to attract, has no clue.

Why Do Acronyms Become Part of Your Content?

Abbreviating a name is comfortable.  Even before texting and Twitter, people found it convenient to shorten words.  For example, we use initials to form a word. SAAS is a word formed from the name Software as a Service.  We create words using the first initials of a long form name resulting in KPI instead of key performance indicators.  Or we just truncate a word or phrase into a syllable or a few letters.  That's how Federal Express became FedEx.  We use these iterations because our brain processes information more efficiently in smaller chunks.

Non standard names manifest for other reasons as well but they are no less confusing. Production processes, raw materials that go into a product, or even a brand name that hasn't caught on can all lead to words that others don't understand.

Yet, when we develop content, we often fall prey to habit and use these words.  They have become part of our vocabulary.  It’s our company language, one we have developed with our co-workers. Just like bumping into a fellow English speaker on a trip to a foreign country, we like speaking our own language.  But if you were fluent in both English and Spanish would you only speak English with someone who only knew Spanish? Of course not.  Yet we often use internal terms around customers even though they have no idea what we mean.

What Can You Do to Eliminate Confusing Acronyms in Your Content?

Start by building an "anti-keyword" list. Just like the keyword list that drives your content, develop a list of company acronyms and pet words and phrases. Use this list as a reminder of the terms not to use when developing new content. In addition, check your current copy. Use the edit find command to search for each term you compiled in your anti-keyword list. Evaluate each instance and determine if there's a better way for you to convey the information.  As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography, "I know it when I see it," you know the offending terms. But, if you're not sure, run keyword searches. Determine the search volume or the type of information returned from the search results and make changes accordingly. Ask people that don't know your company to review your content. The less connected they are with your capabilities the more they will help you identify the terms that don't make sense.

These steps will help ensure content comprehension, generating increased interest from your audience.

Unless a word is meaningful to your audience, avoid using it! Make this practice SOP, I mean, standard operating procedure.

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