Over the past year, there seems to be a trend amongst digital marketing professionals to uniquely reposition their products and services—or at least control the language around important brands—in order to differentiate them from competitors. The rationale: to make them stand out as unique in the minds of potential customers or clients.
We have seen software companies rebranding themselves as technology service organizations, fitness clubs rebranding as holistic lifestyle guides, and product manufacturers removing common terms such as “suitcase” or “sofa” from all their marketing materials—including digital content—in order to control how potential customers view the product or service.
While it’s a novel strategy, these efforts can have extremely negative impacts on organic traffic. This “unique” positioning can mean organic traffic—especially unbranded traffic—is yours to lose. If your website no longer best reflects the answer to the user’s question, using the same language they’re using, it’s more likely they’ll land on a competitor’s page.
A great place to get an idea of how adjusting positioning can affect your traffic is Google Trends. Take, for example, the furniture producer who no longer wants to use the word “couch” in their marketing materials, due to the sedentary lifestyle it can sometimes evoke—couch potato, for instance. A quick search of synonymous terms such as sofa, chesterfield, etc. quickly shows that the term couch has more relative traffic than all the other terms combined. And in a competitive market, the likelihood of being ranked well for keywords not prominently used in on your web content is extremely rare.
Of course, part of the difficulty here is the speed at which rankings change. Often, marketers will make significant changes to their website, immediately check that they haven’t lost traffic on that keyword set, and then leave it alone. Yet, all things being equal, it may take months for Google’s algorithms to fully index and rebalance ranking to reflect the site changes.
At DAC, we have developed a new report called the Opportunity Lost report, which helps inform clients exactly how these decisions will affect them.
We help clients come up with ways to continue to rank for these important keywords on the algorithm side, while downplaying their importance to the actual customer or content reader.
Remember: when you remove organic keywords, even as a rebranding exercise, you are not telling potential customers how they should think of your product. You are telling search engines like Google that you do not want to do business with any customers who would dare call your product by that keyword. In fact, you wish to remain invisible to them.
You can be pretty sure, however, that your competitors will welcome them.