This post was written by: Vanessa Boon.
The energy was in the virtual air before Wil Reynolds Seerfest presentation. After hearing his keynote remarks opening the conference, there was no doubt that value was about to be shared.
However, in typical Wil fashion, he opened the session by saying he was switching it ALL up. He wanted to touch on a different part of search marketing, the inherent biases that can be formed throughout SEO, usually without the customer even knowing. From the first takeaway on intellectual humility, to the ending on bringing search strategies into the real world, Wil taught us all a masterclass on how:
“Words around words, change words.”
The presentation opened with a simple question posed from Wil:
“Is it ever a good idea to NOT speak the language of your customer”?
It seemed so simple, there had to be a twist. At first thought it seems obvious, isn’t the whole goal to speak in a way your customer responds to? Wil presented the idea that in some cases, you need to speak in the way you WANT your customer to search.
- Example: The example he gave was Mercedes utilizing the term “pre-owned” instead of “used.” Mercedes wanted to own that term, and drive the bias around the word “used” out of their search demographic.
- Takeaway: This concept led into the idea that you must believe your own initial thoughts may be wrong. If you carry the belief you may be wrong, you’re able to listen to people who say “There might be a better way.” Listening to those people will drive learning and growth, and in turn create new ways of approaching and winning a customer.
Once you understand that a customer’s voice can be molded, and learned, SEO data can help drive the competitive advantage. It is with this data that you can be the voice of the customer at the leadership table, and make big changes.
Google allows you to use and research “related search,” the search options available at the bottom of the page. These words show you searches near you, and teach the regionality of certain phrases, by dropping similar words into your search.
This is the start of “Words around Words,” and the kickstart to using geographical search to identify where someone else may be looking for the same term as you, indicating regionality advantages, and also biases. Knowing these related terms leads to more knowledgeable conversations with customers.
- Resource: Use a tool like Getstat.com or Traject to look at 100k key words at a time
- Example: The word “amish” can have different meanings in different areas, and is a positive word in many circles. Knowing this can help you advertise in a way that shows you have brand knowledge and experience
- Takeaway: Brand is a promise of experience. In the Amish example, utilizing this term shows “excellence“, “fair price“, “long lasting“, “pride in work” — which is synonymous with handbuilt and quality (aka Amish!)
These keyword scrapes can grow to work towards understanding and overcoming racial and local biases. Trends especially began to change in 2020, (no surprise at the start of the pandemic).
Searches became more specific and words took on new languages. If you ensure that you are looking at all the words around your most dynamic search term, then you can change the conversation. If your related search terms reach the customer, and show brand knowledge, then you’re creating strong affiliates.
However, you must look outside what you’ve always done, and what may come naturally to the client, to break the barriers of bias.
- Example: When you search for “therapist”, Google may recommend “black therapist near me”, as this is a search that is trending in localities, especially Philadelphia where Wil was doing this research.
- Takeaway: When someone searches “black therapist”, they want to see a black therapist. Oftentimes, this is not what is coming up. When utilizing keyword scrapes and popular searches, a team can gain insight on where there is a gap, and where racial biases have been taken advantage of. Companies can take advantage of this miss, and create niche sites that cater to these specific searches and gain a customer’s trust.
- Next Steps: Break down words within an engram and look at your titles for what you’re advertising. See if you can add any related and/or near terms to your title. Break out the words “around” your main word and look at what other words you can put around it. You don’t need to train someone else to use your language, caring about Diversity and Inclusion means speaking the language of the people looking for these things
“We are ignoring a whole other side of Diversity and Inclusion if we’re not using search to help us”.
- Listen to the people who say “There might be a better way”
- Brand is a promise of experience
- Caring about DE&I means speaking the language of the people looking for these things