The impact of excessive jargon in your writing

By Julie Painter | 21 Apr 2021

When writing a contract, blog post or email, it can be easy to litter your copy with industry buzzwords, acronyms and elongated words that pad out your writing. It could be that you’re doing it to showcase your knowledge and present yourself as an expert, or just unknowingly slipping these terms in there through habit.

Either way, using too much industry-specific jargon can be detrimental in the long run, as it can turn off your readers, rather than inform and engage them. Here’s how jargon-stuffing your copy can impact your content:

Jargon can disengage your readers

Using acronyms or specific industry terms when writing for readers without any prior background knowledge can make it impossible for them to keep up with what you’re saying. In fact, leaving them to decipher the meaning of your copy can result in miscommunication with both colleagues and customers, which can cost you time and money in the long run.

Now, removing jargon doesn’t mean you’re dumbing down your content. In doing so, you’re actually catering to a wider audience by making it as transparent as possible – even to experts in your industry. Using clear and concise language means less mental work for the reader, allowing them to get to the point faster.

Jargon can impact search traffic  

Buzzwords and tech-speak can not only be off-putting for your existing readers, but it can also limit you in finding new customers too, if you rely on organic traffic to your website. Search engine users aren’t searching for exact technical phrases; they’re typing in phrases they know and understand. Using excess jargon (especially in headers) can have a massive impact on your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) targets, such as where your content ranks on Google and the traffic it receives.

For example, this point can be proven with the keywords “sale tax recovery” and “sales tax refund”. The former is the correct industry term, but most people were searching for the latter. Swapping “recovery” for “refund” is the difference between 170 monthly searches and 5,400 monthly searches. So, it pays to ditch the jargon and write how your users speak.

Jargon can bore your readers

A lot of work goes into getting your audience’s attention, and making them wade through excessive industry speak to get to the point can leave them bored and disappointed. It’s your job to make it as clear, succinct and engaging as possible. If not, it can result in a high bounce rate and mean you lose the trust of the reader if it’s unnecessarily complex or ambiguous.

While complex words do have a time and a place, like industry whitepapers or legal terms and conditions, using simpler words offers less resistance when read. It doesn’t break up the stream of thought, making it easier for your audience to connect with what you’re saying.  

So, whether you’re writing a press release, a headline or a message to a colleague, take the time to proof your writing and cut out any jargon or fluff. Your audience will thank you for making it as easy as possible for them to understand.