Now that you’ve got an idea of what you’re looking for, you can choose to
brainstorm your list alone, or, better yet, brainstorm with members of your PR, sales,
marketing, and writing teams. This can work well as an e-mail exercise, too; just shoot
out a request for your colleagues to send you their own ideas for keywords.
When Homographs Attack
Homographs are words that have the same spelling but different meanings.For example,
means both “not valid” and “a person who can’t get out of bed.” Search engines have struggled
with homographs since their inception.
As mothers to young children, we have a strong interest in making sure our homes are lead-free.
So naturally, we use the search engines to learn how. Unfortunately, the word
, meaning “a soft
heavy toxic malleable metallic element,”happens to have a homograph:
meaning “travel in
front of.”The environmental lead testing search results are crowded out by pages with information
on leadership! In order to get the information we need, we have to lengthen our search phrases:
“lead abatement,”“lead contamination,”and “lead poisoning.”
Acronyms are particularly susceptible to this problem. One site we know (we’ve changed the name
and identifying details to prevent embarrassment), Massive Media, Inc., has spent years targeting
the term “AMC,”which is an acronym for one of its products.But just in the top 10 Google results,
this term is represented by the following entities:
The AMC network movie channel
The Appalachian Mountain Club
Albany Medical Center
Australian Maritime College
American Mathematics Competitions
Applied Microsystems Corporation
None of these has anything to do with what Massive Media was trying to promote! Clearly,in tar-
geting this acronym,it was navigating the wrong waters.It doesn’t make sense to spend your
energy competing with such a broad field.
If you are unfortunate enough to be promoting a company or product with a name that shares
spelling with a common word or acronym,you will need to brainstorm on what secondary terms
your target audience is likely to add and combine words to find a more appropriate term to target.
Possibilities are the geographical location of your company, the generic term for the product,
names of well-known executives, or the term
.And,as a general rule, don’t target
acronyms shorter than four letters long,
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