Semantic Superheroes

Rethinking Keyword Targeting in 2016

Ranking for a particular keyword isn’t what it used to be. Since it is now autumn in America, let’s take “pumpkin spice” for example. Only a few years ago McCormick and Libby could be certain that their spices and canned pumpkin products would rank high in search results for pumpkin spice because in all likelihood, people using that term at this time of year were probably baking pumpkin pies. Oh, how things have changed. Just take a trip to the grocery store and pay attention to all of the pumpkin spice products on practically every aisle. I even ran into pumpkin spice Power Bars yesterday. The term itself doesn’t mean the same thing it did 3 to 5 years ago, so it would be unreasonable for legacy brands like McCormick spices to think that the same content is going to rank the same for the wider variety of usage for the term “pumpkin spice.”

Makes you think long and hard about ranking for your pet keywords, doesn't it?

How about this one? Let’s say that you’re in the business of selling camera equipment to both hobbyists and professionals. An obvious keyword to rank for would be “digital camera” right? For argument’s sake, let’s say that I type the term “digital camera” into the Google search bar on my desktop. Google will do its best to serve up websites that it thinks I would be interested in based on my location and other searches I’ve run in the past. Even so, the term I used gives very little clue to you or Google as to WHY I want information about “digital camera.” Google has to make the best guess it possibly can. That’s part of the reason why it gives me suggested results as I’m typing. Hopefully in that list is a suggestion that hits closer to the mark of my intent than just “digital camera.”

Let’s say that “digital camera reviews” catches my eye in the suggestions and I click it. If you were a local camera shop that spent its SEO efforts on ranking for “digital camera” and didn’t have any reviews available on your site. You just lost out on getting my attention. What’s worse is you will never really be aware of the potential customer traffic you’re missing out on.

Here’s the backstory. As a customer, I’m a mother of 3 teenagers. One of my children is developing her graphic arts talents. I am considering getting her a nice digital camera for Christmas this year. I want something that’s not too high end because she’s still young and a little bit irresponsible with her things. But I don’t want to get something on the low end either, because she already has some skills and would be using the images she captures in Photoshop.

Now you see why “digital camera review” caught my eye. I’m in the beginning stages of research mode. I need an education in order to choose the right camera for my daughter. If you are in the business of selling camera equipment, you SHOULD be interested in making a connection with me as soon as possible.

Asking your SEO superhero to build content around your pet key terms is like asking your doctor to treat you for appendicitis without running any tests to be sure that you have an appendicitis and not suffering from something like stomach cancer. It’s not at all the best application of their expertise.

How about this scenario to really curl your toes?

What if I’m standing in the middle of the digital camera department at Best Buy and all the sales guys are busy at the moment. I’m not anywhere near ready to purchase, I just want some questions answered. So, I pull out my smartphone, tap the Google voice search, and ask it for “best digital cameras for Christmas.” This verbal search gives a little bit more info as to my intent. At least Google knows I’m shopping for a digital camera that I intend to give to someone else. But thanks to GPS it also knows that I’m standing in the middle of Best Buy and will give preferential placement to Best Buy content in that moment.

YIKES again for you if you’re just chasing that ranking for “digital camera.”

Here’s where your semantic superheroes can come to your rescue. Rather than asking your SEOs to help your pages rank for your pet keywords, start with your potential customers in mind. In regard to the hypothetical above, you need to have lots of information about consumer grade cameras, how they compare to one another, and what they are capable of doing in laymen’s terms. Write the BEST possible content to serve your customers. Considering that holiday season is upon us, make sure that you create content that will help people that are shopping for gifts. Create written content, images, and videos that help your customers. Let your SEO do what they are best at and help that superpowered content rank for both short keywords and longer relevant phrases.

Asking your SEO superhero to build content around your pet key terms is like asking your doctor to treat you for appendicitis without running any tests to be sure that you have an appendicitis and not suffering from something like stomach cancer. It’s not at all the best application of their expertise.

There are many other options beyond the #1 organic spot for a particular term. There are local results that can put your business ahead of organic rankings for for terms relevant to the needs of your local customers. There are also knowledge box results that can give your gamma radiation-infused problem solving content featured placement at the very top of the page on both desktop and mobile searches. But earning those placements requires you to think beyond the keywords themselves to get to the heart of what your customers need most.

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