I spent a day with acronyms recently. SIGH. I was surrounded by geek bloggers and, while I spoke their language, midway through the meeting my head was hurting from translating all those initials.
WP, UTW, PHP, MySQL, CSS, HTML, SEO, META, VAR, RSS, W3C, DTD, XML, GPL, PNG, JPG, GIF, AOL, MT, BB, SK2, K2, OS, MS, IE…the next day, I spent with educators, who used acronyms I’d never heard before, combining letters into alphabet soup as I struggled to catch up with all the impossible combinations. When I ran full-tilt into an acronym with 8 letters, I called it quits. My brain was on abbreviation overload.
Did you know there is an entire site dedicated to helping you define these letters? Acronym Finder. If you are serious about acronyms, also see Acronym Search and Acronym Database.
I started thinking about how many ways we use acronyms in our blog writing. In the beginning of the Internet, acronyms became a way of communicating, which we still use today with online chats and even in our blogs such as LOL (Laugh Out Loud) and smileys or emoticons to represent moods :D in our communications. My favorite was HFWPOH, translated to “Hit Forehead With Palm of Hand”, a great “duh” moment revealed.
In the early days of web page writing and coding, acronyms were supposed to be wrapped in the
<acronym> tag with definition. A dotted line would appear under the tagged letters and the hovering mouse would turn into a question mark, such as HTML. The tip balloon would then reveal the spelled out meaning of the abbreviation. This definitely helped us understand some of the alphabet soup terms if we didn’t recognize them.
<acronym title="cascading style sheets">CSS</acronym>
Some acronyms have become ubiquitous, found everywhere you go so even the layperson knows SEO, HTML and CSS. If they don’t, they’ve been living under a virtual rock.
The key, though, is not just knowing and using the acronyms, but whether or not the using the acronyms in your blog posts helps or hinders your blog.
SEO Meets Alphabet Soup
The key to being found on the web is using the words people search for when they go looking for your blog’s information.
Are searchers using acronyms or whole terms to search for your content?
When you are looking for help on search engine optimization, the odds are that you will use SEO because the term has become so commonplace. But if you are looking for a WordPress Plugin, do you use WP Plugin or WordPress Plugin?
Historically, I’ve found that beginners, people new to the technology, tend to use the full words. They look for WordPress and search engine optimization. They aren’t comfortable yet with the abbreviations. Intermediate to advanced users tend to rely upon the acronyms as they use them in their daily lives.
So who does your blog serve?
On Lorelle on WordPress, I clearly serve the beginners to intermediate level WordPress and blogging fans. Thus, I spell out all of the acronyms, often in combination with their acronym such as search engine optimization (SEO). Those who write advanced coding and hacks attract those who already learned the letters they need to know.
I probably need to go back to including the
acronym tag in my blog posts to ensure everyone knows what I’m writing about, and it will give me coverage for the acronym and the full definition term. What about you?
Keep the searchers in mind as you write on your blog. How are they likely to be searching for the information you have on your blog? Are you helping or hindering your ability to get found by the alphabet soup on your blog?