SEM: The Challenge of Technical Keywords

In our increasingly complex and technical world, we take for granted many new technologies and related terms that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Because searchers on the web have varying degrees of familiarity with these terms, their ability to find what they are looking for varies as well. To say that technical keywords present a challenge in digital marketing would be something of an understatement.

As technical terms and keywords grow continually, so grows the necessity to distinguish the nuances of our technical lexicon.

PPC, SEM and SEO - the challenge of technical keywordsEven in the practice of SEM / SEO , we have growing permutations of technical jargon. So when we market a client’s technical product or service, we should be equally sensitive to the many variations of terms that could  veer quality searchers away from our content. We should also be on the lookout for close match searches that bring the wrong kind of searcher to our online destinations – because we can be paying dearly for “clickers” who bounce away (leave our destination) quickly – which has negative consequences beyond just an irrelevant visit.

With SEO, we look at webmaster tools and analytics to determine what search terms are attracting visits, and we make a judgement call about the value of those terms – and based on that, we adjust.

With SEM, we use AdWords Dimensions to track terms that trigger paid clicks, and fine tune with negative keywords and keyword matching options. Let’s talk about that for a moment, and try to close the gap between what we think Google is supposed to do, and what we observe it actually doing in practice.

If you’ll look at the link above, at the way Google defines phrase match and exact match, I think you’ll find that in practice, query matches tend to be much less restrictive than those simple explanations provide. And this tendency is greatly magnified in the realm of technical jargon, due to the burgeoning of technical terms that correspond to similar (in the mind of the searcher) yet irrelevant (in the mind of the advertiser) offerings.

Let’s say you’re a manufacturer of high tensile strength coated fibers that are superior to steel cable in bridge suspension applications for the construction engineering industry.  You may need to avoid being confused with fiber optic cable manufacturers who supply a completely different product to the telecommunications industry.

Or you could be a service bureau who provides optical scanning services to convert contracts and invoices into digital format for a line of business workflow database – and somehow be confused with providers of digital converters for analog television sets.

I know it sounds absurd, but I’ve seen both, and I’ve seen searchers click on Ad text that has NOTHING to do with what they are searching for. In fact, I’ve literally seen them do this in droves (to my complete dismay) partly for the reasons cited above.

Clearly, as the complexity of your offerings increases, variations of exact matches will need to increase as well.

We have to remember that in our technical world, there are many levels of acumen and understanding. These levels range from novice searchers just beginning to learn how to effectively find their target destinations on the web, to advanced searchers who are far more likely to search more narrowly and click more precisely.

And keep in mind also that search perspectives can vary by measures beyond intellect or sophistication alone. A CFO will not search using the same terms as a CIO – but both can be influential in a complex enterprise technology sale.

Objective: Quanitity of Clicks or Quality of Searcher?

In our Adwords campaigns, when we see a keyword beginning to dominate impressions and clicks, it’s generally a good indication that the term is too broad. That’s when we peer into the Adwords Dimensions tool and look at the keywords that are generating clicks.

When we do that, we begin to see a whole new dimension of what is being searched for, relative to our marketing intent. And as with any other metrics tool, we adjust accordingly. Then we begin to ask ourselves, “Who are these searchers?” Are they decision makers, influencers, or even obstructionists? Are they employees of our target accounts, or are they our own competitors, or perhaps industry analysts?

They could even be potential partners searching for ways to support their clients, who in turn support our efforts (as partners – which sometimes occurs) in our high-dollar complex technology sale.

The term “Dimensions” is quite fitting for this AdWords feature tab. I highly recommend exploring it, along with each of the 12 drop down views below, especially “search terms”. Using Dimensions, you’ll be able to fine tune your matching and decide where exact matches need to be used.

But you’ll gain more than that – you’ll begin to gain the perspective of your searchers as they arrive at your content. And that perspective is invaluable.