Ben McConnell has a short little post over at Church of the Customer this week that serves as a perfect example of why keyword research is so essential. McConnell is talking about companies that rely too heavily on jargon in their marketing materials. In the world of search engine optimization, we call that "PR speak."
McConnell's post was sparked by Facebook's description of itself on their home page.
From McConnell's perspective, this is a perfect example of a company that is relying too heavily on jargon. After all, how many of you would describe Facebook as a "social utility" if asked to describe it by friends? My guess is not many, especially since a search of both Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery show ten times more searches for "social network" than "social utility."
What does this have to do with toilets? For that matter, what does it have to do with you?
Well, it underscores just how important it is to do keyword research for your site. Whether small business or big, companies tend to get caught up in their own way of saying things. If a public relations department has been in the mix for long, there's a good chance they've tried to differentiate your product or service by giving it some snazzy new name. That's fine and dandy, but if your site focuses on that snazzy new name and ignores the boring, but descriptive original...you might be missing the boat in terms of search traffic.
Take the example from the title. While a new model of toilet could technically be called a "biological waste aquatic removal system" (after all, you're removing human waste via a water based system) chances are slim anyone is going to go searching for that. In fact, Keyword Discovery tells me the site selling toilets would have a lot more luck if they focused on phrases like:
low flow toilet
McConnell sums it up in six words:
Jargon is easy. Simple is hard.
I understand how much companies want to differentiate themselves and their products online. There's nothing sexy about being the 4,567th site selling toilets online, but the reality of how people search means that if you want to attract these potential customers to your site, you're going to need to speak their language. If you haven't done keyword research to see if your customers call your products the same things you do, you'd better get started.
Remember, just because you are using the same base keywords and phrases as your competitors doesn't mean your site and your copy have to be boring. Tone, style and description can all go a long way toward taking those basic keywords and making them pop.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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