Jan 26 2007 at 2:43pm
Gerry McGovern had an interesting article the other day about the difference between search words and marketing words:
The words that people search with may not always be the words they would like to read when they arrive at a webpage.
The word “cheap” is a good example here. You probably don’t want to brand yourself as “cheap”. “Cheap” brings connotations of poor quality and bad service – something you probably want to avoid. Words like “affordable” or “low-cost” would be more more appropriate. But you can bet that people will be using the word “cheap” when they search for sites like yours.
Mr. McGovern, unfortunately, stops just when the idea starts to get interesting. You want to show people the nicer sounding words, but in order to rank for the search terms people will actually be using you need a way to show the simpler, cruder words to search engines. How do you develop a site that shows one set of words to people and another set of words to bots?
It’s a difficult problem. Google does not want you to show them different words from what they show to people. But, at the same time, they want to find the best results in their rankings. Or course, we all know that meta keywords are obsolete and underhanded methods such as hidden keywords are ignored. You could try to use off-page factors to target the simpler words but that is still branding yourself in a way you don’t want to be percieved.
It’s an interesting thing to think about, and I’m sure people who actually know about SEO would have more to say about it. One potential solution would be for search engines to be able to match what people enter with the words that marketers are using on the websites. So if someone entered “used car”, Google would know that this is the same as “pre-owned vehicle.” They already have spell checking functionality, so why not a thesaurus too?
Liam had another suggestion: rely on off-site directories and such to drive traffic to your site. So you get listed on sites that list “cheap web design” or whatever you’re selling, but do not include those words on your site. Liam also thinks that there’s no need to use the “nicer” words in the first place – just use the “crude” words to begin with. I’m not so sure about that: I think it’s very possible that people will react better to the nice words, depending on what you’re selling and who your audience is.
P.S. WordPress 2.1 is out and the new visual editor includes – you guessed it – spell check! Yay! I hope that editor works in Opera. I haven’t been using it because it didn’t work properly for me before.