We’ve never heard a customer use that phrase

Yesterday I talked about why it might be preferable to concentrate on getting your website to rank for less glamorous searches than the obvious ones, and here’s a good piece which will set you off on the right path to finding those terms. Written for Problogger by Eric Enge, Leverage the Long Tail of Search on Your Blog proposes that before writing any online page, you spend 15 minutes on some keyword research. It’s a very good suggestion.

There’s another, wider benefit you might get too. When researching this sort of thing, especially once you start to get into synonyms, you often find out that the terminology which web searchers (i.e your prospects) use to describe something is not the same as the terminology you habitually use in-house. If that’s the case, even if you’re aware of the situation already, the exercise will help quantify whether your unusual way of describing a product or service hits the long tail brilliantly, or if you’re the only people in the world who use that phrase.

I once had a conversation with a company where they said they’d like to appear more strongly in Google for (let’s say) “custom widgets”, the standard description of what they made. I pointed out that nobody would know from their website that they supplied these, as they seemed intent on telling people only that they specialised in “tailored widget solutions”. Their response was: “Yes, we’ve always described what we offer like that, the managing director likes to be different from the competitors. But we’ve never heard a customer – or even one of our own salesmen – use that phrase”.

Discussion

  1. David Stonier-Gibson

    Getting the right phrases is a particularly vexing problem for us. Our target audience is people who seldom have any expertise in our field (“deeply embedded OEM electronic controls”) so they have little chance of knowing the “in” terminologies. I have even considered optimizing for “littul computer to control my sausage machine”!

    David Stonier-Gibson, SPLat Controls Pty Ltd

  2. David Stonier-Gibson

    Nice touch, Chris. Interestingly, a similar devilish thought crossed by mind as I wrote my comment. Is one single inbound link likely to affect Google, do you think? I’ll check back in a month.

    Coincidentally I have been “keywording up” the anchor text on a few onsite links today, following your advice in earlier posts, and will continue to do so as I periodically revise the site.

  3. Chris Rand Post author

    If it doesn’t affect Google, I’d suggest that it’s only because it’s such a “weak” link, being in the comments section on a blog. Put it in the body copy of a page, and it should do something.

  4. David Stonier-Gibson

    15th June: After 1 month Google provides one hit for “deeply embedded OEM electronic controls” (in quotes) … this page.

    Without the quotes it returns

    #1. One of my YouTube clips
    #2. This page
    #3. Our main website home page
    #4. A Microsoft page
    #5. A wn.com video link to our YouTube clip
    #6. Another wn.com video link to our YouTube clip
    #7. One of our “alternate” websites, a white paper
    #8. Our listing on an industry association website.

    and 2 unrelated to us.

  5. Chris Rand Post author

    Shame we didn’t make a note of the Google results without quotes the first time round. Here’s what I see here in sunny Cambridge for http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=deeply+embedded+OEM+electronic+controls:

    #1 Your YouTube clip
    #2 This page
    #3 This page on your website
    #4 A European Commission website page
    #5 A Michigan State University website page
    #6 The Microsoft page
    #7 One wn.com video link to your YouTube clip
    #8 The “alternate” website white paper

    and 2 others unrelated to you. Interestingly, 8 companies find it worth their while to put AdWords ads on the page (and these ads wouldn’t show if the search term was only rarely used), yet none have bothered to make up a page to dominate the organic searches for the term, something which we now know would be easy to do.

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