I inadvertently created my own example of the “ground zero mosque” problem just after I wrote about it last week.
Writing on the Datablog, I posted the latest statistics on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from the Health Protection Agency. STI is the correct, recognised term for things like chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhoea and HIV. The problem is that for years such infections were termed STDs – sexually transmitted diseases – and although the medical world has stopped using that term, the real world hasn’t.
I ummed and aahed about whether I should be accurate, and use STI throughout the article, or go with the more recognisable STD. In the end I used STI in the body but stuck with STD in the headline and, therefore, the URL (“STDs in England: Breakdown by region, gender and ethnicity”). That way, I reasoned, search engines would pick up the term STD but the article stayed true to the recognised term.
Surpringly, no one in the comment thread picked up on the use of STDs versus STIs. I’m sure it’s frustrating for sexual health professionals when the media continues to peddle outdated terms, but until the SEO process adapts unfortunately we need to keep using them, if we’re to capture as many readers as possible.
You’ll notice by the way that I refrained from using ‘sex’ rather than ‘gender’ in the headline, which would probably have brought in a lot more…