Keywords – In Your Customers’ Words

Shauna McGee Kinney, Copywriter By Shauna McGee Kinney

There are industries and services that have genuinely useful keywords that cannot be found exclusively through Google’s keyword tools or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) methods.Look at the following locations to find the keywords that your customers will recognize and that give you credibility as a supplier or service provider.

Where to Finds Your Keywords

Take a quick browse of 15-20 webpages that fit your company, your competitors or your clients. Paste screen shots into a slide presentation and use the slides as an easy way to compare and review sites. Your business-specific keywords should be used in your print collateral, your topic titles, your menus and in the URLs on your website.

In many cases you will need to role play your customer’s searches or the steps your company would need to go through to start an ideal new project with:

  1. Requests For Quotes and Government Tenders
  2. Regulatory and Licensing Documents
  3. Competitors’ Websites
  4. Suppliers’ Websites
  5. Employment Ads
  6. Industry and Trade Associations
  7. Industry Media, Magazines and Trade Shows
  8. Industry News Releases and Publicity
  9. Large Companies in Similar Industries

What Your Customer Expects to Hear and See

Your website and print material should have the words and phrases that your customers are familiar with. Here are some suggestions:

Good words and phrases to add Avoid these content mistakes
Choose one phrase for the menu and title. The menu and title phrases should match. Use the other synonyms throughout the body paragraphs to connect with customers familiar with the related phrases, like‘anti-skid’ and ‘anti-slip’ and ‘non-slip’

‘floor safety’ and ‘site safety’

Coming up with new, unique phrases or creative, casual phrases like ‘anti-slip-skid-trip’
Choose to use plural or singular forms of a phrase that you use often, like the singular of‘Electronic Engineer’

instead of the plural form

‘Electronics Engineer’

— use your gut instinct and keep notes of your choices

Plurals are different to synonyms. Customers may get a gut instinct something is wrong or your company is less professional if they see a different form of a common word and continuity changes.
Define your company, product or service and then qualify your statements. For example,‘… is a leading business within the oil & gas industry with over 40 locations worldwide and a 60 years experience with facilities producing 250,000 to over one million barrels of crude per day.’ Making vague statements without qualification, like ‘a leading business within the oil & gas industry that boasts some of the most advanced technologies in market’
Use bullet points and match your phrases to tender documents or client’s job postings, like‘risk based assessment, design supervision, project implementation and corrosion monitoring activities’ Avoid adding bullet points that group unrelated topics, such as ‘ corrosion monitoring activities, large international employer, keynote presenter at the 2010 NACE Corrosion Expo’ instead write paragraph content that describes a relationship between these diverse topics
If you need to use a word that has multiple spellings and you have customers that will search by both spellings, add the alternate spelling in parenthesis such as‘jewelry (jewellery)’ Mixing multiple international spellings such as ‘harbour’ and ‘harbor’ – stick to one dictionary

How to Use Common Acronyms

Many technical and specialized industries have a common repertoire of acronyms that are easily recognized. There are a few times that using an acronym can be more confusing that helpful. Here are some recommendations:

Good uses of acronyms Avoid these acronym mistakes
Spell out your industry acronyms once, the first time that the acronym is used on each page, such as‘Raymarine MFD (Multi-Function Display)’

— even if your supplier doesn’t spell it out

Only spelling out the acronym once on each web page or only in a brochure — modern customers do not access content in a linear fashion and it’s good to repeat yourself
If your company name or products use an acronym that is identical to other more popular acronyms, spell your acronym all the time starting with your product name, for example‘Electrical Construction and Maintenance (ECM)’

to avoid getting traffic from customers looking for more popular searches for ECM

‘Enterprise Content Management (ECM)’


‘Engineering Computing and Mathematics (ECM)’

Coming up with multiple acronyms that are similar, but not distinctly different. For example, ‘Electrical Construction and Maintenance (ECM)’ might work for ‘EPCM (Engineering Procurement Construction Management)’ companies. Instead of using the second, similar acronym, always spell out the phrase and don’t show the acronym at all.
When listing multiple industry phrases, in sequence, that are usually spoken in acronyms, spell out all of the words and drop the acronyms, such as‘wide area networks, local area networks, virtual private networks, wireless networks and secure network server’

— you don’t need to capitalize the first letter of the spelled out words and you might switch to bullets for more than three items divided by commas

Listing more than three acronyms or trade-abbreviations in a row, like ‘WAN, LAN, VPN, WiFi, and SNS’ and be aware that some of your suppliers may require you to use registered trademark ®, trademark ™ or copyright © symbols when using their product or brand names

Many words used in large industries are not highly-searched terms on Google, but are very recognizable to your customer. Help your customer find what they are looking for and gain credibility by using phrases and words that are familiar to both your customers and your industry.