Your products and services may be exactly what customers are searching for, however if you are not using the same words that they use in their search, Google will not include your business in their search results.
Search Engines, like Google, are simply a set of algorithms that use a process of checks and rules to rank websites for search queries. One of the most important deciding factors to include a website in a search result is based on how closely the wording on the website matches the query typed by a customer.
When Google is deciding which websites should be included in a particular search query, it bases its decision on a few important factors: which country the website is hosted in, the wording of the website, how many websites link to that particular website and the age of the website.
Do your Customers use that same word to describe your products or services?
Within our chosen industries we develop a language that we use when we speak to one another. We get use to describing our products and services to each other using this jargon that it becomes second nature to use these words in our general day to day dealings and even in our marketing material.
A good example would be the use of the word ‘Rugged’ to describe a really durable mobile phone that is designed to be used in a tough environment like a construction site. When I first heard this word being used in this context, it immediately made sense to me. The word perfectly describes the properties of the device and its intended use. The suppliers, retailers and the company itself love the word and use it in all their marketing communications and throughout their website.
But, Would Their Customers have Used This Word?
Customers who are introduced to their rugged mobile phones, immediately understand the meaning of the word being used to describe the product, just like I did. But here’s the catch, if I never heard this word being used before in this context, then I would never have used it to describe this type of heavy duty mobile device. The same can be said for the customers who are searching the web for this type of device. The possibility of them using the term “rugged” in their search query is very small.
Instead their customers may be searching phrases that describe the rugged phone for example; ‘waterproof mobile phone’ or ‘heavy duty mobile phone’. It’s hard to say for sure what search terms customers will use to describe your products and services in their own words. But in-order to make sure that they arrive on your website you need to ensure the words you use on your website are as close as possible to the words your customers use.
Ways You Can Research The Language Your Customers Speak
There are ways and means of getting a good idea of the digital language your customers are using to find your products and services. You most likely already have the information you need, it’s just a case of identifying your customers first contact points in your company where they are enquiring about your services and products using their own words.
Often the first port of call for a new customer is the receptionist. A new customer might start off the conversation with a question like “I’d like to speak to someone who could help me with…..” What follows next is the important part I want you to take note of, for example …”help me with finding out more about your waterproof phones”. Another example could be “does your company sell heavy duty phones specially made for construction sites?” The last one is interesting because it has two elements in it heavy duty and also specially made for construction sites.
Make sure your receptionist understands the importance of recording these questions accurately, you are needing the exact words the customer uses.
Email requests from customers are probably one of the most useful resources for this type of research, if you are starting from the beginning. Hopefully you have access to your archive of email requests from new customers asking about your services and products.
Go through those emails and look for patterns, for example similar words they have used to describe your services and products. Record the key phrases/words and keep count of how many times it was used by different customers. This will give you an idea of the keywords and phrases used by your customers
Search queries on your site
Most websites have a search box included in their website, usually in the top right of the site. the search box is for customers who are looking for something in particular on the website that they can’t see in the navigation, they can simply type it in the search box which would then show them links relating to their query.
Ask your website administrator to send you all the queries web visitors enter into the search box on a monthly basis. Not only will this give you invaluable information about the type of things customers are battling to find on your website but it will give you a list of synonyms and alternative words and phrases used by your customer to find your products and services.
Asking your customers
This may seem like a no brainer. However many companies are missing out on this golden opportunity to find out from their customers exactly how they came across their business.
How you ask your customers is also just as important. Try to phrase the question in a way that doesn’t put any words in their mouths. E.g. “Hey by the way Jim, do you remember what you searched for on google when you found us?” Note I never mentioned a product name.
If you have a Facebook or twitter page with a decent amount of followers, you will most likely be answering a few questions posted from time to time by your followers. This again provides a great tool for mining important natural language used by your target audience in relation to your business.
On a side note, if you don’t have a Facebook business page or you don’t feel that it’s useful to spend much time on your Facebook business page, then you should have a look at this article about how to make your Facebook page work for your business.
On the right hand side of most google searches and also usually the top few results, are paid for results. Companies pay to be in this position and Google will charge them every time someone clicks on their ad.
When deciding which keywords they wanted to pay to be shown on, they used a program called google AdWords.
When you type in a keyword you think your customer will be using, this program gives you thousands of alternatives to choose from so that you won’t lose out on any searches you never thought of.
A lot of people turn to forums to find answers for questions they maybe were not able to get answers for on Google or because they wanted a really specific answer to a really specific question.
Forums can be general and also specific to your industry. Try to find a forum that is related to your industry and then go through the questions being asked. You might find that you are the perfect person to answer their question and you have the perfect solution for what they need.
This is a great way to get ideas for new products and services as well as to find out what words your customers are using to look for your products. A great forum to get started in is Quora.
Surveys often elicit negative thoughts of irritating pop ups on websites and endless questions about customer service. But the value you can get from them far outweighs the negative.
Similar to when you were asking your customers face to face about how they found you and you had to be careful not to mention any specific industry terms. The same applies here!
When your asking questions try to be neutral, instead of asking “How would you search for our new line of rugged mobile phones” try “What are you looking for in a mobile phone”. With this type of question you are really allowing your customers to use their own words.
You can also steer your target audience the right way so they understand what you’re getting at without saying it, for example your first question could be “Have you ever broken your phone before?” You get the idea.
What your customers are searching for and what you’re selling may be the same thing. It just comes down to making sure they find it on your website and the way to do that is to speak the same digital language they do.