Everything you need to know about SEO, delivered every Thursday.
What To Do When Your Brand Message Doesn’t Match How People Search
SEO is all about words. Which words people search with; how to use them; and where to put them. Choosing the right keywords is imperative to the success of any SEO campaign.
Unfortunately, selecting these keywords isn’t always as simple as it would seem. Many B2B companies have very specific marketing and messaging philosophies that may not always line up exactly with the way prospects search.
What? We Can’t Use Those Words!
This is not a new problem. It is often said that SEO is the art of compromise. There are times when a B2B company is presented with SEO recommendations and the response is, “we don’t want to use that word/phrase on our website”.
While the keyword or phrase may be highly relevant and have great search volume, the phrase itself may not be appealing from a brand message perspective.
For example, your marketing team may refer to your service as “demand creation”, but the vast majority of your prospects are searching for “lead generation.”
Your CEO may be in love with the term “enterprise telecomm services”, but most buyers search for “call center.”
What should a B2B marketer do if their company’s brand messaging does not align with the way prospects search?
Six Factors To Consider
Here are six factors to consider when evaluating whether or not to include keywords in your SEO strategy:
- Keyword relevance
- Search volume
- Searcher Intent
- Market Position
- Internal vs External Industry Jargon
Relevance & Volume
First, does this word or phrase describe your business or your products/services? Is it highly-relevant to your business? If yes, the keyword should at least be considered for inclusion in your SEO program.
Second, does research indicate that this keyword or phrase is commonly used?
Look at total search volume as well as the amount of variations of the keyword or phrase. If volume is high for both of these metrics, this phrase is most likely often used by prospects in relation to your business.
A third data point to consider is whether your direct competitors are using the phrase.
If a majority of competitors use these words on their websites – there’s probably a very good reason why! Be cautious about going against market trends when it comes to common search phrases and the way people describe your products and services.
Can you tell if the person conducting the search with this keyword or phrase is looking for your product or service offerings? Or does this word/phase have a variety of meanings and uses?
For example, acronyms often have high search volume, but searcher intent can be hard to determine due to different meanings. “ERP ” usually means Enterprise Resource Planning, but it can also mean Effective Radiated Power, and Electronic Road Pricing!
In order for a keyword to be an effective element of your SEO campaign, the intent of the searcher must be to find the exact service your firm offers.
The next factor to consider is market position.
If you incorporate a keyword/phrase into your website, will it negatively impact your company’s position in the market? This may be the case if the keyword describes only a small part of your overall service offering or is not entirely reflective of your company.
Overall, if it is not likely that having this keyword (or phrase) on your website will negatively impact market position or audience perception then the risk associated with including this keyword or phrase in your SEO program is low.
Finally, the issue of industry jargon must be addressed.
It can be hard to remember that a word doesn’t always carry the same meaning to the whole world that it does within your company. B2B marketers often create a new description for products or services that they believe sounds better than the common name or search phrase.
While it is important to have a unique selling proposition, the new description may not match the way your target audience would describe your product or service.
Remember, successful SEO is dependent upon speaking the same language! Beware of building your SEO strategy around internal marketing jargon – rather than the words prospects actually use to search.
SEO Benefit vs. Market Position & Perception
In my opinion, an effective SEO program requires that a company stand behind all of the keywords and phrases they are targeting. These six considerations can help you evaluate the pros and cons of including keywords in your SEO strategy.
There are times when a B2B company must adapt their brand message and times they should stay the course.
SEO agencies and B2B companies alike must thoughtfully consider the potential impact a keyword can have on SEO results and how this keyword may influence the market’s perception of your firm.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.