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Java – An American slang word referring to the Indonesian island famous for its coffee – also used as the name for a programming language

With a large array of technical jargon and acronyms used at digital agencies, words such as URL, SERP and TLD are known by most but it's important to remember that not everyone is familiar with such terms and it's unfair to expect everyone to understand what we're talking about all of the time.

This is especially so with clients where the use of technical terms can hinder the client from understanding the true worth that SEO brings to their business. Similarly, people just starting their careers in the industry can find the use of jargon, abbreviations and acronyms may hamper their learning.

Alternatively, for people in the industry with a non-development background, using the wrong abbreviation can also lead people to doubt your expertise. A perfect example of this is abbreviating JavaScript to Java. To put it into perspective it's a bit like confusing Batman and Superman and then expecting to be taken seriously in an article about comic super heroes.

For those of you who are unsure, Java is an object-oriented high-level programming language with much of its syntax being derived from C and C++. Whereas JavaScript is a web language often used for increasing interactivity on websites and has no direct relationship to the Java platform.

Acronyms cause further confusion, as their meanings are not always obvious. SERP is a commonly used and understood acronym on the SEO industry, but SERP can be as foreign to a client as SPARQL is to an internet marketer. So how do we break down these barriers and help our clients to truly understand what we're talking about?

Acronyms:

I'm a big fan of acronyms, let's face it, who doesn't like a good LOL every now and then? But when communicating with a client, whether it's on the phone, via email, or via documentation, I try to avoid using them. By stripping out all acronyms from client communications the likelihood of a disconnect decreases.

Become more informed:

Take every opportunity you can to learn about web development, user experience, information architecture and anything else you may come across. If you've got time go and check out Codecademy and learn a bit of JavaScript. Should you need to hold your own and convey your points correctly to a developer, you'll be in a much better position.

A great example of where you can learn some new code tricks at the moment is rich snippets. There has been an explosion of gold stars in the search engine results pages recently and if a client is asking how to obtain them, try to avoid pointing their developer to a relevant resource, go and learn how to do it. You'll find you grow as an internet marketer and you'll also be able to provide a greater level of service and expertise to your client. Once you've learnt how to do it, share it with your team.

Data:

There's no question that the number of inbound links, data from Analytics and the levels of search engine saturation will all help you to monitor the success of a campaign, but do your clients really need to know this type of information or do they even care? For the most part positions, traffic and conversions are the main metrics that the majority of clients look at. But it's worth considering other types data such as market share and return on investment to help the client understand the benefits that SEO is having.

Regardless of the data you choose to report on it's important to go the extra mile and explain it. Make sure the client knows how to interpret the data and what it means to their business. I'll bet any client will be more excited to see their rise in market share instead of an increase in the number of pages on their site Google has indexed.

Educate:

Your clients come to you because you are the expert. As the expert it's important that you take the time to educate your client. By that I don't mean tell them all your trade skills, but you should certainly keep them abreast of industry developments. Take the time to explain to your client that Panda is an evolving algorithm and that Google tend to update the data set once a month. As such, it's incredibly important that their site is updated regularly. Ensure your client knows about the Penguin algorithm, explain to them the type of signals that Penguin is hunting for and ensure they understand what they can do to protect their site, but also what to expect if Penguin decides to take a swipe at their site.

I see educating the client as one of the most important parts of my job.

Technical vocabulary, acronyms and jargon form a basis for communication within the SEO industry and without them we would struggle to carry out our day jobs or even write a blog post. SEO has become increasingly important in business and the world around us, and we should make our work more accessible to the client. Don't undersell yourself and the work you have done by confusing your client with a barrage of jargon. Make sure the client knows in clear and concise terms the value you are bringing to their business. Do this and they'll thank you for it.

Alex Harvey

Alex works for Fresh Egg, an SEO and multi discipline search agency. He has an extensive background as a web developer.

SEO & Web Design Blog

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One Response to “Technical Vocabulary, Jargon, Acronyms & Client Communication”

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