I like marketing because it’s a delightful combination of art and science.
When our team creates marketing art (something unique and meaningful for an audience) from which that audience gets joy (or value, in the case of marketing), I know I’ve done my job.
But without science—in the form of audience research and data analysis—the art of creating something meaningful is a crapshoot. As an agency who uses someone else’s money to play that game, we wouldn’t even begin to create marketing art without science.
That’s why we have to occasionally remind our corporate marketing department friends of the importance of this balance. Specifically, when it comes to corporate lingo and SEO.
Corporate lingo used to describe a company’s products and services is typically part of a company’s brand guidelines, which also includes rules around logos, graphics, photography, and voice. Like all branding components, consistent nomenclature helps create consistency in the marketplace and among employees, so everyone is speaking the same language. What could go wrong?
Well, in the case of SEO, a lot.
Marketers know this: if you want to get found online, SEO is your cheapest option (because it’s free of media fees). The thing they don’t always remember is that SEO only works if you’re creating content that includes words your prospects are actually searching for—not the ones you’ve designated as your corporate lingo because someone thought they sounded sexier than the mainstream ones.
Let’s say you make dried herbal infusion products. And you insist on using that exact terminology in all your marketing materials because you know there’s no such thing as naturally-occurring caffeine-free tea* and you’re bound to educate everyone as such.
The problem with this thinking is that you’ve got no chance in coming up anywhere near the top of Google’s search results. Not because Google is a jerk, but because they’re serving up content that includes the words your prospects are searching for. In this case, it would be “caffeine-free tea” or “herbal tea”.
Even though those phrases are like fingernails on a chalkboard to you, you’ll need to find a way to get them onto your website. They don’t have to be everywhere—they just need to be peppered around enough to be found by the Google machine.
Write a blog about the different phraseology and why it matters (and be sure to use one of the popular keywords in the URL). Write another blog that compares your competitors’ herbal tea against your superior herbal infusion creations. Add reviews that customers have submitted that use the highly-searched terms. Put those terms in your metatags and descriptions.
This is how you play the SEO game.
As for your brand guidelines, keep them updated with your preferred terminology. Just make sure your branding police understand that guidelines are just that—guidelines. They are your friend. But in the SEO game, they can quickly become your enemy.
*All ‘tea’ comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant which contains caffeine.