Writing inclusively is an essential part of producing high-quality content. It is also important for SEO to write using the words and phrases that your audience will use. Writing inclusively could also create a better user experience for your readers, which means that they will be more likely to share it with others or link back to it.
What is inclusive writing?
Writing inclusively means writing without bias or prejudice, and it requires an understanding of the diverse perspectives and experiences of your audience. It is essential to create content that is accessible, respectful, and welcoming to all readers, regardless of their age, ethnicity, appearance, culture, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.
In other words, inclusive writing is not just about being politically correct, it’s about creating content that acknowledges and respects the diversity of people’s identities and experiences.
How to write inclusively?
Inclusive writing is about avoiding stereotypes, assumptions, and generalizations that can be harmful and exclusionary.
When writing about age, for example, it is important to avoid ageism, which is discrimination or prejudice against people based on their age. So, instead of using phrases like “senior citizens” or “elderly”, you could use more neutral language like “older adults” or “people in their golden years.” You should also avoid stigmatizing and patronizing language such as, “senile”. Rather use a word like dementia when referencing a condition of the elderly.
Similarly, when writing about ethnicity, it is essential to avoid stereotypes or perpetuating harmful biases. One way to do this is to use specific language instead of broad generalizations. For example, instead of referring to all Asian people as “Oriental,” you could use more specific terms like “Chinese”, “Japanese”, or “Korean”, which refer to a specific country or region.
Appearance is sometimes difficult because it is the subject of someone’s personal looks. However, paying attention to how you describe people is crucial to improve the inclusivity of your content. Always avoid body shaming or perpetuating beauty standards that exclude or marginalize certain groups of people. For example, instead of referring to someone as “fat” or “overweight”, you could use more inclusive language like “plus sized” or “full-figured”. Describing smaller people (or people with dwarfism) as “midgets” is also an example of non-inclusive language relating to appearance. Words like these should always be avoided in writing.
When writing about culture, it is vital to avoid exoticism (a form of representation in which peoples, places, and cultural practices are depicted as foreign from the perspective of the composer and/or intended audience), or othering of people from different cultures. One way to do this is to use respectful language and avoid stereotypes or generalizations.
Using inclusive language when writing about gender is an important way to ensure that everyone feels represented and respected. For example, instead of using “he” or “she” to refer to a generic person, it is more inclusive to use “they” or “them”. Other inclusive language practices include avoiding gendered language when it’s not necessary, using terms like “partner” instead of “husband” or “wife” to be more inclusive of same-sex couples, and avoiding language that assumes someone’s gender identity or expression.
When writing about sexual orientation, it is essential to avoid stereotypes or marginalizing certain groups and to respect the identities of individuals. Using inclusive language and avoiding assumptions about people’s sexual orientation can help make your content more welcoming to all readers. For example, instead of assuming someone’s sexual orientation or using slurs, you could use neutral language like “partner” or “significant other”. You can also use terms that specific people identify with if you know what they are. An example of inclusive language when referring to sexual orientation is “gay people”, whereas non-inclusive phrases are phrases such as “homosexual people” and “homosexuals”.
When writing about income, education, and occupation, avoid stereotyping individuals based on their socioeconomic status. Using neutral language and avoiding assumptions about people’s situations can help make your content more accessible. For example, instead of using language like “poor” or “lower class,” you could use more neutral terms like “low-income” or “working class.” Words and phrases like “homeless” and “undocumented” should be replaced with inclusive phrases such as “people who are homeless” and “people who are undocumented”.
By being mindful of the language we use, we can create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone.
Inclusive writing is an ongoing process that requires ongoing learning, self-reflection, and engagement with diverse perspectives. By writing inclusively, you can create content that is more engaging, informative, and respectful to all readers. As a result, your content will reach a wider audience and you will be able to build stronger relationships with your readers.
If you need assistance using more inclusive language, Yoast SEO has a great new check (in beta). You can opt in to the inclusive language analysis so that any potentially non-inclusive phrases in your writing are brought to your attention. And because the check is in beta, you can also provide feedback! Many of the examples we have used in this blog are taken from the Yoast SEO blog on inclusive language.