Simple SEO – Watch Your Language! – Part II

In my last blog I talked about what I’ve observed as a disconnect between how businesses often talk about their own products and services and how their prospects and customers talk about them. This disconnect can become a big, negative driver when it comes to SEO (search engine optimization) and driving people to their web sites. If you’re not using the same words and phrases that your target audience uses when they’re looking for products and services like yours, they’re not likely to find you. They’ll enter in their search terms and phrases and, other companies that have used the right words and phrases, will capture their attention first.

You don’t want that to happen. But, how can you step outside your own strong feelings about what your products and services are called to recognize the way that others talk about you? Here are some suggestions:

  • Listen to them. Pay attention to how your customers refer to you as you have conversations with them or as you monitor comments they may make online. Instead of discounting their terms (which I’ve often heard businesses do!!**), recognize that “right or wrong,” what they call you is what they call you. Their perception is your reality — like it or not.
  • Ask customer service and sales reps. If you don’t have a significant amount of direct contact with your customers (and shame on you if you don’t, but that’s a topic for another blog…) ask your staff members who do.
  • Visit online forums and blogs frequented by your potential customers. We have opportunities today like never before to be “flies on the wall” when it comes to listening to our prospects and customers. It’s very easy to monitor what they’re saying and how they’re talking about issues related to your products and services, simply by following blogs, Twitter discussions and forums related to your industry. Again – pay attention to what they say – not what you and other business colleagues in your field say unless they represent your market.
  • Visit competitors’ web sites. You likely know who your top competitors are. Just as with your target audience, the Internet now gives you access to insights and data about your competitors that you never had access to before. Analyze the copy on your competitors’ web site. What terms and phrases are they using prominently? When you enter those terms and phrases how high do your competitors’ names come up in search results? How closely do those terms and phrases align with what you’re hearing from customers, prospects and the public at large.

It is admittedly difficult for any of us to take off our blinders and toss aside our own preconceived notions about our businesses, and the products and services that we are so close to. But, the key to effective marketing is taking an “outside in” perspective and nowhere is this more true than when trying to drive traffic to your web site.

(P.S. We offer web-site analysis services for our clients – if you’re interested, let me know at

**I actually worked with a company that insisted on the use of a specific term — the one “right” term — to refer to various aspects of their business and insisted that copywriters *not* use any other alternative terms. I’m not joking.

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