If you’re doing global business, you’re online. That’s pretty much a fact. And, if you’re doing global business, you’re probably using English for a big chunk of it.
As I mentioned in my last post about the different kinds of English, there are a lot of small details that can cause big problems. When you’re talking about websites, those problems often fall into the realm of SEO. For those of you who don’t know what SEO is, it stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. Or, as I like to put it “Getting Google to love you”. Age, gender, location, sub-culture…
Part of SEO is keywords: What do you call “that thing”? (again, see my last post). But another big part of it is “sounding interesting”. A large part of what Google does is look for things that are “interesting”. In the old days, you could just fill a page with keywords and all the search engines would come a-running. That’s why, when you’d go searching for a Barbie doll, you’d end up on a page… well… very not about Barbie dolls.
Things have changed since then (much to the approval and relief of almost everyone). Now it’s about how appropriate your content is, and how many people are talking about it. That’s the “interesting” part of the equation. When you’re dealing with a global economy, you need local language and local insight. Far too often, I run into situations where someone has a very good grasp of English from a technical sense, but doesn’t understand “how we talk”. Rhythm, pacing, subtext, and humor are what make us want to read. And those things change not only by country, but by region–even city–within a country.
When you’re looking for people to write for your website, take some time to think about who they’re writing for. Who is your target? What are their demographics? How do they speak? What do they like to read?
Now… write that.