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Search terminology matters – that’s not a bap, it’s a batch

ClearBox Consulting > Communications  > Search terminology matters – that’s not a bap, it’s a batch

Search terminology matters – that’s not a bap, it’s a batch

bread-bunsPeople often use different words to find the same thing. Your content might be about ‘annual leave’, but your colleagues might call it ‘holiday’, ‘day off’, or ‘time off’.

When writing for your intranet, consider how people might search for it in the weeks ahead. Some people might know your material exists, while others will only hope that the topic exists in some form.

Use a number of synonyms to describe your topic. While the title should be clear and specific, the summary or opening paragraph can use alternative terminology.

  1. Make a list of all the potential words people might use in real life and when searching. Talk to colleagues about official lexicons and real-world terms used in the field. Both are important.
  2. Select two terms to be your main keywords, then pick three more words to be your alternative keywords.
  3. Use your top two keywords in your headlines, introductory paragraphs, and bullet points.
  4. Use your alternative keywords throughout the rest of your content.
  5. If you have the ability to ‘tag’ your content, use all of your top five keywords there too.

Every so often, ask your intranet team for a stats report about search terms used over the past six months. Note what words people are actually using to search for information. You might need to do a little rewriting to help your fellow colleagues find your material.

Don’t be clever! Keep your words simple and clear – we’re trying to help people, not frustrate, annoy, confuse, [insert alternative word here] them.

Identifying and using keywords is an important part of creating great content. If you fancy topping up your intranet writing skills, then join our interactive and vibrant intranet writing workshop.

This is one of a series of short articles about intranet content practices.

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Joanne Treverton

Previously an in-house intranet manager.

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