What’s In A Word?

Are the words you use to market your business attracting the right buyers?

Being discovered online is getting increasingly complex.  The days of set-it-and-forget-it websites doing the heavy lifting of online marketing are long gone.  Today’s businesses need quantifiable results for their hard-earned marketing spend.  With respect to internet marketing – this means selecting the right words that will enable your business to both rank well on search engines, and be discovered by more buying-prospects searching for what you have to sell.

Regardless of what the name is on the sign outside your building or on your business card – the wording you use for internet marketing plays a significant part of your overall online visibility.  Your businesses listing on Google Search for example, is often the first impression a new customer has of your company – so it should accurately convey your business and be crafted in a way to attract the right searchers.  Conversely, a low ranking on search might cause your existing clients to be lured away from your business by competitors who appear more prominently – judging solely by their higher ranking and increased visibility.

Think of the words you use for online marketing as magnets – use the right ones, and you’ll attract in the right buyers.

 I recently received a call from a business-consultant whose client was setting up shop in North Carolina.  I was included in the early stages of their marketing strategy for my input on what to name this new business – from both an offline and online perspective.  A local marketing firm had already made their pitch for a name, but the consultant had suggested his client get a second opinion.

In this case the business was an auto body shop, and the name proposed (both online and offline) for this new company was “Town Collision Center” (For this article “Town” = the actual town the business is in).

My viewpoint was quite different.  Knowing this business markets hyper-locally (about 10 mile radius), I suggested they incorporate their dominate local identifier (their actual town name in this case) along with the phrase “auto body” (not Collision Center) in the name of the business as seen from the street, as well as within their online presence.

“Auto Body” “Body Shop” “Auto Body Shop” “Collision Center”– all the same right?  Po-tay-toe or po-tah-toe, it’s still just a potato.  Isn’t it?

Having had several auto body repair clients over the years I have done some name-game studies before, and with 823,000 searches in the US every month, “Auto Body” has proven to be the phrase that pays.  The remainder receiving 550,000 – 90,500 and 110,000 monthly US searches respectively.

Think for a moment how you search for something online.  If you were looking for great pizza in New Haven CT for instance, this might be how your search query could play out:

>Pizza< (whoa – way too many results)

>Pizza restaurants in CT< (more refined, but not specific enough yet)

>Pizza restaurants in New Haven CT> (fantastico – che è!)

Doing this search Giulios Pizza and Restaurant pulls top rank for a regular non-paid listing (called an organic search result).  Having lived in New Haven half my life however, I can tell you that Modern Apizza is the local favorite.  So why aren’t they ranking #1 in the search?

Apizza is a thin-crust pizza unique to New Haven CT; it even has its own Wikipedia page.  If you want good pizza in CT, Apizza is what you are looking for.  Rolling back on that search query – this time replacing Pizza with “Apizza” you’ll find the beloved Modern Apizza owns the search engine results page (aka: SERP) with four-listings on the first page – a whopping 40% market share!

Pizza or Apizza – Auto Insurance or Car Insurance.  What’s In A Word?

With the right research, strategy, and execution – businesses using optimized & targeted keywords within their digital assets and in their online marketing wordtrack will rank higher in search.  A website, blog, social media channels, images, and video are common examples of a business’s digital assets.

Why is ranking on search engines so important anyway?

  • 93% of all internet traffic is derived from search engines
  • 60% of search clicks go to the top three listings
  • 70% of the links people click on are for organic results (i.e. – not the paid ones)
  • 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results
  • 80% of unsuccessful searches are followed by a revised search
  • 91% of email users have unsubscribed from a company email they had previously opted-in
  • 40% of SEO marketing campaigns achieve a ROI (return on investment) of 500%
  • 22% of PPC (pay-per-click / paid advertising) campaigns are able to reach a 500% ROI
  • Search is the #1 driver of traffic to content sites beating social media by more than 300%
  • 62% of American households are connected to the internet


Don’t think this is just an automotive thing; I could have easily singled out Insurance Agents, Boutique Retail Stores, Attorneys, Restaurants, or Home Improvement companies – each having unique strengths for specific keyword usage that largely goes un-tapped.

I often hear how business owners had assumed the person building their website would have done this keyword and website optimization to make their website discoverable on search.  While that was common just a few years ago, the complexity of search engine optimization [SEO] & search engine marketing [SEM] and of website design has divided them into separate disciplines over the years.  Just as it is unlikely that the person digging the foundation for a house will be the same person nailing the shingles on the roof – so too is it unlikely that the same person designing your website has the same skills to successfully get it discovered by search engines and (most importantly) marketed to the right buyers.

SEO is the technical element that gets website pages discovered by search engines

SEM are marketing actions that get websites discovered by people

 Two of the most common pitfalls I see in keyword targeting are when businesses use industry-specific terms in their phraseology (unless of course they are targeting B2B), and focus on the words they want to be discovered by.   Naturally, this only applies to businesses that have at least made a connection between their wordsmithing and their actual business.  It’s an easy mistake to make.

Instead of focusing on jargon and their own intentions – businesses should concentrate on identifying the words people use to find them – and weave these into their strategy. Research and ongoing analysis will spot these words and help single out trends and spikes.  I also advise businesses to consider what keywords/phrases will attract:

  1. Their top-5 fastest selling items (services/products)
  2. Their top-5 highest $ grossing items

For the second part of this name-game, businesses need to add their location reference within their digital assets to market their company locally – so local buyers can discover them.  For existing businesses – some careful word constructing will assure this does not detract from your existing brand identity.

The focus here is to do some local keyword research to see if your local identifier (i.e. town name) should be added to the front or back of your principle keyphrase – Rhode Island local marketing companies vs. Local marketing companies in Rhode Island for example.

Looking back at the original discussion over the naming of “Town Collision Center”, I was thrilled to hear this business went with our advice by selecting “Auto Body of Town” as their namesake.  When optimizing the business-side of websites, the in-between words of a page title such as the, and, in, and in this case of, are referred to as stop words – and search engines will largely ignore these.  In this case, search engines will see this new business as Auto Body Town – and that’s about as tight as you can get with optimizing a local business.

TIP: You could alternate between a town name and/or a zip code for certain website elements.

Common areas to implement this new keyword strategy include:

  • Website title
  • Website anchor text (the blue-color text that has a website page linked to it)
  • Social Media profiles & posts
  • Blogs
  • Business Profiles – like LinkedIn, Yelp, and Google Places (being phased out by Google+)
  • Website Image & Video
  • Photo sharing sites (like Picasa & Pinterest)
  • Maps and GPS software
  • Hashtags #
  • Print media & email marketing

Keyword-focused optimization followed by search engine marketing (story for another day perhaps) are the beginnings of a solid online marketing strategy for startups and established businesses alike.  The word game – played well.

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