The best key words to use in your web site

As a web writer, I’m often asked about key words.  The question usually is: ‘what are the best key words to use in our web site?’

The question asker usually is asking because they’re interested in search engine optimization and have been told that the best way to get to the Holy Grail #1 spot on Google is to include these mythical creatures known as ‘key words’.

The next few blog posts will talk about the best key words you can use in your web writing … and none of them will refer to search engine optimization.  As a web writer, I prefer to write web sites that speak to people who may buy something.  I don’t write for Google, who won’t.

So what is the first in the list of key words to use?

You.

Web sites are an intriguing communication tool in that you are potentially publishing information that can be seen by six billion people, but you are speaking to them individually.  The best mindset to take into web writing is that you are conducting a personal conversation with each member of a potentially large group.  And using the word ‘you’ engages with those individuals.

Think about your own web usage for a moment.  When you visit a web site, do you respond to copy that refers to you as a customer, consumer, patient, audience member … or one that speaks to you directly?  For most people, it’s the latter.

So, when web writing, talk to people directly.

Just a postscript: in many of our workshops we get Government employees who tell us that they are not allowed to use conversational speech because it’s against policy.  The governance says that it’s against ‘the style guide’ to use words like ‘we’ or ‘you’.  Here’s my $0.02 … that’s insanity.  The policy should change, but these commandments can be difficult to amend.  How do you do it?  By providing an argument that moves out of what people think is best practice and shows what you know is best practice.  That is often best done through research.  More about that in a later blog post.

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