How To Avoid Jargon From Gunking Up Your Writing

by Mandy Boyle February 1st, 2011 

As first-time SEO copywriters know, it can be difficult to blend both meaningful text and relevant keywords. But with time and practice it becomes almost second nature to have keywords occur naturally. You begin to think of related phrases and subjects. You start considering keyword variations. But even the most veteran of copywriters can fall into a trap that makes what was once a well-crafted piece of content into just another piece of gunk.



Jargon is one of those things that we tend to use without knowing.

After months or years of writing about a particular subject, we become accustomed to hearing certain terms associated with it. Maybe we even get to know the manufacturer and all of the behind the scenes details that go into making a thing. Or we begin to pick up some of the slang associated with the industry.

Either way, once jargon starts to invade your writing, it can make even the most well-written piece ineffective. After all, who wants to read something that doesn't feel like it's written for them?

When jargon starts gunking up your SEO content, readers will feel like your copy is in it's own special club. It's not relevant to them and it's not keeping their interest.

What can you do to stop it?

To avoid buzzwords and clichs, there are some simple things you can do:

  1. Proofread. This is something you should be doing already with your writing but instead of looking for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, look for jargon. see where you've sprinkled in a term that might not belong.
  2. Simplify. Jargon tends to become more prevalent when we complicate our writing. See if you can take what you've written and reduce it down to something simple or universal. Not only will it read better, but it'll also appeal to a much wider audience.
  3. Review. Go back to some of your earlier pieces of writing on the subject and study them. What was your tone or style? How did you approach the subject? As we spend more time writing about a particular subject, we tend to use more jargon. Earlier pieces can be a reminder of what it means to be clear, concise, and compelling.
  4. Grade. If I'm working on copy, sometimes I'll run it through the Gobbledygook Grader to see if I'm falling into the common trap of using cliches, jargon and well, gobbledygook. Give it a try. You may be surprised at what you find.
  5. Read. Look at the copy you've just written from the site visitor's perspective. If you were coming to the site for the first time, would you understand what it was about?

It's important to write for the audience, but every good writer knows that jargon can cloud your core messaging, so avoid it as best as you can. There will still be the occasional slip of the buzzword, but it's only natural. Remember, we writers are only human.

Now I put the question to you: how do you keep jargon from gunking up your writing?

Mandy Boyle

Mandy Boyle is the Director of Internet Marketing at Net Driven. She is also a published freelance writer and co-founder of NEPA BlogCon. She enjoys theater, not taking herself seriously, and adventurous eating.

Mandy Boyle

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3 Responses to “How To Avoid Jargon From Gunking Up Your Writing”

  1. Kris Scheben-Edey says:

    Very good points Mandy – thanks for the excellent read.

    This is especially true when you're working with small businesses, and the need to communicate value in services must be done without jargon. Like you said, it's second nature for us to think in seo jargon when we want to describe something related – however, by doing so we can lose a lot in translation.

    It's eye-opening to talk to small businesses and realize the communication gap – the common business owner does not have time to learn these terms, or the services they relate to. While this may indirectly affect the use of jargon in my own writing, I find having the ability to communicate face to face in a jargon-free conversation helps a fair bit when it comes time to put pen to paper.

    Thanks for the article!


  2. ashnaka says:

    not helpful at all…examples should have been given…too many abstract terms have been used like "simplify"…can you actually show through an example what you mean by "simplify"…or are we supposed to figure that out…?