When the craziest searches make the most sense
Looking beyond the obvious gets the search engine marketing results
One day I was curious to see if anyone ever googled “how to call 911.” I was amazed at how many people did. I kept digging into into the stupid searches, and here’s what I found…
“How to dial 911” ~1k searches yearly
“How to Google” ~80k searches yearly
“swallowed wedding ring” ~100 searches yearly
“Rock Candy Media” ~10k searches yearly
Rather than falling into despair about the fate of humanity, I realized this was indicative of how even people who aren’t desperately stupid search. It really opened my eyes and made me think how I target keywords with Google ads and SEO.
After looking at my last 100 searches (removing searches for common websites like Facebook or ESPN), I found the terms I used to be incredibly simplistic. I found myself describing how items operate in very simplistic phrases rather than the name or some complex function that the product can do. For example, someone looking for a bottle of sriracha sauce might not know the name of the condiment, so they’ll be looking for “rooster bottle hot sauce” or “red spicy asian hot sauce” or some other combination of aspects of product they remember.
After this, I had an idea, run a split test on what users react to better: an overly simplistic keyword or phrase or a more precise keyword or phrase.
One of our clients has a parking lot resurfacing business that exclusively caters to larger commercial construction projects. In order to avoid advertising to consumers who might just need their driveways paved, we targeted the specific industry terms used to describe their services. Then, to be certain, we tested those terms against the more general terms. It’s a good thing we did the A/B test, because it turns out we were wrong. The target audience did not care about the distinction between asphalt and concrete, or commercial vs. residential. They searched exactly how you’d imagine any consumer searching.
Switching to a more simple keyword set helped improve the set, and increased conversions by over 100%!
Moral of the story: sometimes a more “dumbed down” approach is the smartest choice for SEM. Your customers might not know the name of what they’re searching for, but they know what it does.
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