The evolving language of online


The online world is maturing. Much of the jargon associated with the internet is no longer regarded as such. Instead much has passed into the collective vocabulary, becoming part of everyday conversations, particularly in the realm of social media.

This evolution has even begun to affect basic spelling. For example the hyphens once associated with e-commerce, e-mail and the like have disappeared and now you don’t even need bother with the dub-dub-dubs (www). Of course all of this has been technically possible since the advent of the world wide web but the practice has only recently been adopted by end-users.

Dropping the hyphen

Rather than mimic electronic versions of traditional systems, the world wide web has evolved somewhat organically:

For example

electronic email > e-mail > email : See Google Trends for more detail and a graphical interpretation

electronic commerce > e-commerce > ecommerce : See Google Trends for more detail and a graphical interpretation

The business implications: don’t get left behind

My advice is check how your company refers to its electronic/online products. Your users may have moved on. Don’t get left behind, particularly when it comes to search marketing. Check the keyword volumes on Google Trends and Google Insights for search.

Drop the dubs?

The jury is still out on dub-dub-dubs (www). A number of companies (including some major high street names) have been dropping the dubs from their offline marketing.

Simple technology has allowed these companies to send web traffic to the right places. The webmaster can simply run a re-direct on the www. part of the address and map users either from non-www addresses to their equivalent www addresses or vice-versa.

Marks & Spencer is used in their marketing material and the user is sent to

Younger web companies have even launched their businesses without the www. Including, and

So, what shall I do?

My advice is not to use www in your offline material (especially when making speeches!) but do use the www. reference online. However, the dubs still have a place online. They can help less-savvy users differentiate between a company’s services: For example, and

E-consultancy to Econsultancy, the biggest online community for digital marketing professionals have taken the leap, and have been for a few months now. With some nimble SEO adjustments they have managed to switch their web address from to Note the double-whammy of dropping the www and the hyphen at the same time.

If you want to find out more read the SEO advice on how Econsultancy migrated their website on the Econsultancy forums. It’s a piece from 2008 but it still contains some good nuggets of SEO information

If you’ve made similar changes within your own business or organisation we’d love to hear you.

More on this subject