Nov 112013

Naming the Animals

Language evolves and is shaped by active forces. As technology, culture, and society moves forward, our language and keywords are forced to keep up. Because this change happens fast, it’s increasingly common that a social, technical, or cultural manifestation has emerged and isn’t yet defined, commoditized, or made into a cliché.

The interesting thing is that, as search marketers, when some other branch of marketer comes to us all charged up after identifying a new concept or trend, we respond with “well, there’s not that much search volume on that.” And so we exit the conversation and the action moves elsewhere.

In other words, search marketers are followers.

Keywords Without Search Volume are Opportunities

Search marketers should be marketers first, search specialists second. If a new social trend is emerging that has not hit the public consciousness to the point where there is identifiable query volume that reflects the underlying semantics, we should see this as an opportunity, not a reason to step aside.

Trends without query volume are content marketing opportunities. They are business-building opportunities. They are stuff of which money is made.

For example, a client has a product portfolio that makes preparing side dishes, main dishes, and meals easier. It’s not microwave dinners, it’s cooking made quicker, easier, and with less planning required. As we mulled this over, we realized that outside quick and easy keywords, the larger concept had not been defined and as result had little query volume.

What is the larger concept? It’s the idea of agile cooking. Of responsive cooking, Of being able to cook a separate dish for each member of the family. Of being able to spread dinnertime out over the course of several hours to accommodate schedules. It’s families creating sustainable food cultures that work for them. Not the way their parents eat, but a way of eating that works for them, as they live now, and that results in happy and well-fed families.

What are the keywords for that? They don’t exist. Flat out. Which means there is an opportunity for the brand to own this concept, define the language, and own the keywords as they gain currency in the culture.

Create a Concept, Own the Language

Creating a concept and owning the language isn’t a new idea and is often employed by management and research consultancies. ‘ERP’ or Enterprise Resource Planning software – was a term coined by the Gartner group around 1990 and they owned that language for a quite a while.

Notice the use of the word “coined”, as in to make money. It was only when firms like SAP and Oracle began selling ERP software in huge amounts that they lost ownership of the term. But by then, they were off coining new terms.

When you get good enough at this tactic, you may become a genericized trademark like Google, or Kleenex. Then you are guaranteed to rank for your keywords. Kleenex didn’t go around trying to capture interest in facial tissues – they created the concept and defined the language to the point where they werethe keyword.

Be a Leader: Make Your Own Keywords

As search and SEO firms morph and evolve, we need to prick up our ears the second we hear about a new idea that doesn’t seem to have any relevant identifiable keywords or query volume. That’s an opportunity knocking. That’s the time to start talking about a content marketing program and an editorial calendar to start defining the concept, creating the language, and pushing it out through social, owned, and paid channels.

And once you’ve defined the language, you’re going to rank for it. Search marketers need to step up and become full stack marketers, using keyword insights and understanding of inbound channels as bellwethers for business opportunity.

We don’t need to follow. We can lead.

Image Credit: Naming the Animals from the Peterborough Bestiary (MS 53, f. 195v)

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