Aside before I begin: Some of what I’ve been writing lately has been inspired by work I’ve done for clients or help I’ve given to people I know. I’m writing up the lessons learned to try to help others (and my future self) avoid the same pitfalls. So this is observation and information, not criticism. If you think anything I write up might be about you and you don’t like what I wrote, please let me know and I’ll fix things. Thanks!

When you’re making a new website for your organisation or company (or for yourself!), it’s kinda trendy to use abstract language that doesn’t actually reflect what you do.

This can be a problem. Especially if you rely on search engines like Google to send people to your website from search results. And DOUBLY especially if your business name itself doesn’t mention what or where you are.

It’s a problem because search engines are trying to identify who you are and what you’re about, and if you’re too abstract in your language and content then you won’t appear in the right searches.

I’m actually guilty of having a vague company name myself. My company is “Oikos Digital Ltd” which, while a clever name, doesn’t describe in English any of what I do. So I’m very careful to have my website set up with a big title saying “web development and technology consultancy for charities, communities and small businesses” and I try to talk about those things a lot on my website.

As another, made-up example, let’s say you ran a bakery in Bath. You’ve decided to call it “Risen”. Your marketing agency has suggested you use the tagline “Fresh / Tasty / Treats”. Your website is at risen.co.uk (don’t go there – I made it up – I can’t be held responsible for what you actually see), and it has lots of shallow-depth-of-field photos of beautiful cakes topped with sparkly buttercream, and rustic loaves dusted in stoneground flour, and it talks a lot about craft sponges and cup-cakes, artisan icing techniques, and hand-crafted sourdough.

Google may well put you in search results for these things you mention. But you’ve neglected to mention that you’re a bakery…in Bath. So if someone does a search for “Bakeries in Bath” you may not be found.

So, while it may seem incredibly boring to do so, it’s actually quite helpful to talk about what you do, and, if you have a physical shop or office or venue, to talk about where you are too. It helps people find you, and when people arrive on your website, they know exactly what they are looking at.

This process of making your website’s content help you appear in search results is called “Search Engine Optimisaiton”, or “SEO” for short. It’s a big, scary subject, and lots of people will try to sell you lots of expensive services and tools to help you do it well.

But the basics are simple: Make it clear who you are, what you do, where you are. Talk about those things. Put those things in headings and titles to show they are important. If you know how, include them in meta tags for descriptions and titles too.

Yes, my imaginary bakery (this is making me hungry!) may want to be found in searches for “fresh treats” or “artisan sourdough”. Maybe that’s a strategy you’ve chosen. But if you’re an average local business wanting to attract local people then you probably want something less obscure.

A trendy website is no good if no one is going to find it. Trendy, abstract, modernist marketing is great, and you can still use some of that, but be careful what you write: you may need to be boring to be found!