When Words Fuel the Internet
Words are the fuel of the Internet. We type the name or description of a product, service, or topic into a search engine, and the search engine takes us to it. With luck we get where we would like to be. Easy enough from our end — usually.
Of course, our search words have to match those that marketers use to describe their product. And therein lies the problem. Sometimes as marketers, we are too clever for our searchers, or as my husband would argue, “Peach is fruit, NOT a color.”
In his post Words That Work at Marketing Profs, Gerry McGovern, uses the book “Words that Work,” by Frank Luntz to show that the words we sell with are often not the words we punch into a search engine. Take a look at Prof. McGovern’s examples:
However, according to Overture, in December 2006, 730,958 people searched for “used car,” while only 949 searched for “pre-owned vehicle.”
Nearly 73,000 people searched for “housewife” (122,000 searched for “desperate housewife”), while only 43 searched for “stay-at-home-mom.”
Over 30,000 searched for “gay marriage” while 19,000 searched for ” same-sex marriage.”
While about 17,000 people search for “impotence,” over 100,000 search for “erectile dysfunction,” proving that some words are indeed falling into disuse, even from a search point of view.
The point is that the words that might bring us to products — cheap office supplies, budget hotel — aren’t the same words that sell us when we get there — office supplies at great prices, campy hotel. Prof McGoven wonders whether we need to use more than one set of terms to describe things. Hmmmm. I don’t know.
I keep thinking that transparency and deep knowledge of our customers as people would lead us to write copy that naturally avoids the problem.
I’d love to know what you think.
— ME “Lia” Strauss