Winston Churchill said that “short words are best and the old words when short are best of all.”
Jakob Nielsen has made a very interesting link to how people write punchy and memorable prose and how people use search engines.
His thesis is that when searching for something on the web, the users will tend to use old and familiar terms.
Jakob comments, “Old words rule because people know them intimately. Familiar words spring to mind unbidden. Thus, users are likely to employ old words when they boil down their problem to a search query, which is typically only 2-3 words long.”
It’s one of those points that make you smack yourself on the head and say of course – he also suggests that you must cut down on marketing speak and write simply using common terms “blind” as opposed to “visually impaired” for example.
Also you should use generic terms as well as brand names – to capture users who are in the early stages of looking Jakob’s comment is “don’t abandon the other 95% of prospects who are searching for their problem and don’t know the name of your solution.”
This is something we have done for some of our clients in both promoting brand name products, but also making sure that the web page is written to cover more general terms.
To give an example we have a client who sells Burglar alarms so we will do work on the site so that it works both for their (fairly well known) brand name “Response Alarms” but also do some work on more generic terms like burglar alarm or home alarm – so that their site is found by searchers who know what brand of alarm they want and those who may be in the investigative phase of buying a product.