Saturday, September 26, 2009

How to revise your keyword strategy

The agency I work with had an experience a few months ago that reminded me of the power of keywords. I know that when I say ‘keywords’ your eyes have automatically glazed over. You’re thinking about lists and bids – trying to find that word that steals people from your competition to arrive on your website. What a chore. Why don’t we just do a viral video or a huge billboard. Your reaction is on par with every reaction I’ve ever received when I bring up keywords to a marketer, client and even some agencies. Hold on for a second, this is going somewhere useful…

Over the past few years we have worked closely with the Workers Compensation Board in Nova Scotia. This relationship has seen great creative work and awesome results delivered year after year. Most public service advertising of this kind focuses on the big messages – huge accidents can be avoided, don’t take unnecessary risks, etc. For this campaign the insight was based on the little things: How a small action can prevent a major problem. We thought it was good, the client thought it was good and after the launch, the public thought it was good as it was quite successful.

Just after the launch of this campaign, Pat Cowin was putting together a safety presentation for her fellow workers at the NASA Langley Research Centre. In preparing for the presentation she wanted to demonstrate how the little things that no one thinks about usually cause the injuries. She dropped ‘safety is in the little things’ into Google and received this response: www.worksafeforlife.ca followed by the description “It’s the little things that no one thinks about that can cause injury…” . A person looking for something very specific found it from an organization a country away. There was no major keyword buy, but keywords and content were not ignored. Because the root of the campaign was based on a rationale that was easily shared and specific, it was picked up by a variety of other organizations looking to spread a similar message. Because the main idea was built around that simple set of keywords, the keywords that made it accessible were found in every piece of communication and they didn't have to be forced in.

The basis for any online strategy should be on an insight that reflects common sense. Your keywords don’t always need to be purchased, but they must always be thought of. They are essentially the only continuity between your message and a person’s action. A keyword strategy is the central point of integration between any traditional campaign, the message, and the audience response. We have the opportunity when developing a campaign, product or any communications to either

1) capitalize on existing language that is familiar to our audience;
2) or develop something new – something that stands out.

For worksafeforlife.ca we chose the former, as ‘safety in the little things’ was common language but rarely used to promote work safety. Think about how a similar strategy can easily be integrate for your products or services and how looking at the creative idea for its main point can leverage the online traffic searching for your solution.