Beware of the use of Acronyms

Writing for the Web

Acronyms and specialist technical jargon are all too common these days, not only within published documents, but also within the content of webpages. Whilst the use of acronyms within the copy on your website is useful to ensure your website is found by those in the know, what about the uninitiated? You are potentially loosing a whole section of your target audience, if you rely solely on acronyms within your text. Added to which, what if an acronym has two or more completely different meanings? In which case, you could be targeting unwanted markets, drawing in unsuspecting visitors that have absolutely no interest in your services or products, with disastrous affects on your bounce rates. And low and behold anyone thinking of using acronyms as part of a Google AdWords campaign! Not convinced? Then let me give you a couple of examples.

In the field of maritime radio navigation the acronym EMRF stands for the European Maritime Radionavigation Forum. But this acronym is also used to refer to The Euro-Mediterranean Restaurant Federation, the Energy Markets Reform Forum, the European Magnetic Resonance Forum, Energy Management Revolving Fund (Canada) and the Emergency Mine Reclamation Funds. But this example pales into insignificance when you consider the abbreviation ‘SEO’ - according to AF Acronym Finder there are currently over 30 different meanings for this abbreviation, of which 3 relate to the field of Information Technology. Other meanings are used by the Military & Government, Science & Medicine, Organisations/Schools etc and within the Business & Finance sectors.

So, if your not working in the field of Search Engine Optimisation, my advice is to forget about using this acronym as a keyword in your text when writing for the web as, believe me, the chances of you being found out there today, amongst the plethora of Search Engine Optimisation company website listings, is very slim indeed.

Acronyms do have their uses but, if you do decide to use one, make sure you also spell out what it stands for in the text of your page, as well as in the page title and page headings, where relevant. At the end of the day you may find the name in full to be a far more useful as a keyword phrase than the acronym on its own.