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Nothing has confused marketers more over the last two decades than SEO – Search Engine Optimization.  Reason being: very few people have a true understanding of what it is.  In fact, some people believe it’s a myth!  But I assure you…SEO is very real, and it’s very important.

The reason many don’t truly understand SEO is because it’s been a moving target over the years.  When search engines took center stage in the 1990’s, the websites that would appear highest on the results page did so simply because of rudimentary keyword matches.  It didn’t take long for web developers and copywriters to begin exploiting the system.  New safeguards were put in place, but again, developers found a way to exploit the loopholes.  This song and dance has gone on for twenty years.  With all the updated algorithms and new exploitations, it’s no wonder people can’t get a handle on what it is.

This is not a blog intended to detail the history of Search Engine Optimization.  There are plenty of those out there (some are even optimized to meet today’s standards!), so go ahead and pull up Google if that’s what you’re looking for.  Instead, this blog is intended to draw your attention to what’s truly important when writing for the web; how that organically coincides with SEO; and how to take SEO a step further and incorporate that language into your complete marketing strategy.  This is a how-to in Search Optimizing Your Marketing Strategy.

Intent + Lingo = Sweet Spot

Let’s pretend for a minute that you own a company that manufactures electronic components.  Step one, of course, is to figure out what your customers want.

Well, duh!  (Do people still say “duh?”  ::Quick Search::  No, they don’t; glad that article was optimized!)

Do your homework.  Review the sales calls.  Scroll through the search history of your site.  Look into the live chat logs.  What are your customers looking for?

You’ve now identified that your customers are looking for an all-purpose, highly effective thermal interface material.  Tons of searches have popped up for versatile materials that will work for a variety of components.  So you and your R&D department go to work.

Once you have your product and you’re ready to go to market, step two is to identify how your customer is searching for just such a product.  When writing toward SEO, figuring out the how is just as important as figuring out the what.

Regardless of the latest and greatest search results algorithm – Panda, Penguin, Pigeon, Platypus – you can’t effectively write toward a word or phrase without first knowing which word or phrase you need to write toward.

You just developed your new product line.  Utilizing a state-of-the-art material, you’ve developed a thermal adhesive that can do it all.  Your marketing team develops a campaign around the Still-Chill (let’s hope you have a marketing team that could do better than that name).  And yet, after a few months, you realize sales didn’t go the way you thought it would.  Why?  Reviews are great.  Focus groups love the performance.  What went wrong?

Throughout your entire campaign, you called your product a “thermal adhesive.”  The name of the product was Still-Chill, clearly incorporating the adhesive aspect, and you rode that name out across all mediums.  The problem is, when searching for such products on the internet, your customers weren’t using the term “adhesive.”  Some were – and those customers are thrilled with your product.  Other people searched for thermal glue.  A handful of people searched for less-common derivatives like thermal grease, thermal tapes, etc.  But most people searched for “TIMs.”  You missed out on all those customers because you weren’t speaking their language.

Forget Keywords, Think Keyphrases

Just like flip phones and iPods, keywords have been outdated for the last decade.  When thinking about Search Engine Optimization, there are two types of searches: short tail and long tail.

Short tail searches center around keywords.  TIMs.  Thermal Grease.  Thermal Glue.  Some people (my parents, for instance), will always use keywords to search.  But keywords are vague.  A general, keyword search returns a general, less-effective result.  If I search for TIMs, what are the chances that I end up on your site and not the site of another manufacturer, a store that sells electronic components, or even

Long tail searches, however, are far more specific.  A multi-word phrase (typically three keywords or more) returns a far more focused list of results.  If I searched “heat dissipating adhesive TIM,” isn’t there a significantly better chance I would end up on your page or, at the very least, the page of a retailer selling your very specific product?

Keyphrase, or long tail searches, are far more common today than ever before.  The general population has become far more savvy when using search engines.  Additionally, and perhaps even more importantly, the heavy reliance on mobile devices in search has totally altered the way searches are conducted.  Voice-activated searches through Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and so on, leads to more question-based or phrase-based searching.  “What’s the difference between thermal gap filler and thermal glue?”  “Find me a heat dissipating adhesive thermal interface material.”

In a way, long tail searches make it easier to write toward SEO.  If you’ve done your homework and are speaking the language of your customers, you’d organically be writing toward those questions and phrases already.

Develop a Search Optimized Marketing Strategy

Research done in the name of SEO is supremely valuable data.  You’ve learned how your audience is speaking about your product.  You’ve learned how they’re seeking out your product.  Take that data, those words, those phrases, and give it back to them.

After the initial disappointment due to the shoddy sales of Still-Chill, you put your boots on the ground and unearthed the root of the problem.  You learned that most of your clientele is searching for TIMs, not specifically thermal adhesives.  Consider using the term TIM in your marketing materials.  Considering using it in your social campaigns.  Heck, consider changing the name of the product to TackyTIM!

Once you commit to your customer’s lingo, you can take Search Optimized Marketing.  Develop white papers about the difference between TIMs and thermal adhesives (spoiler: all thermal adhesives are TIMs, but not all TIMs are thermal adhesives).  Write up a case study about heat dissipation, complete with customer testimonials regarding your product.  Look at your organic landing pages and incorporate those popular keywords and phrases into your paid search campaigns.

The more you incorporate the SEO principles into the entirety of the marketing campaign, the more the SEO takes care of itself when constructing copy.

A Search Optimized Way of Life

At the forefront, SEO is and always will be a way to drive traffic to your website.  However, taking the SEO principles and applying them to marketing as a whole is a game-changer.  For far too long, marketers have written copy, only to circle back and edit it for SEO.  If you’re listening to your customers and identifying their language, their lingo, you don’t need to edit for SEO.  If you’re utilizing the information they’re giving you, and developing your search optimized marketing campaigns, the SEO takes care of itself.