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Choose Your Words Carefully: Who Are You Writing For?

When it comes to writing your website copy, there are a lot of people who want to put their 2 cents in.  Marketing, SEO, the legal department, the big boss... everyone has a different opinion.

As an SEO copywriter, I know words are not only crucial from an advertising/persuasion/psychology standpoint, but also from the "get traffic from search engines" keyword perspective.

For example, what if you're advertising your oceanfront resort, but you find out you can get a lot more traffic from keyword phrases that have the word hotel in them?  (The following discussion is not based on keyword research for hotel vs resort but simply to illustrate the SEO decision-making process.) 

The question isn't just which keywords are most popular- but also which ones are not so glutted with competition that you can actually rank well enough in the search engines to get traffic from them.  It might be that resort is overused by the competition- that wouldn't be a surprise, because it's more appealing- it suggests amenities, fun, relaxation, whereas hotel just brings to mind a room, a bed, and a TV. 

Resort has more value, so it might sell better.  But if you can't get enough people to your website with resort keywords, hotel might actually bring you more revenue.  Here's where the conflict happens- marketing wants resort, corporate identity is resort.  But we also want website traffic and business, and SEO is suggesting hotel.  Is there any compromise, any way we can use hotel keywords somewhere?
The answer is yes- there are certainly ways to do that- for example, all your graphics could use resort and your ALT tags could use hotel, or both resort and hotel.  You could use hotel keywords in body text, blog entries, and many other places.  As long as we find ways to preserve the consumer's image of the brand as a resort, we can find a number of other places to mention the hotel, which is, of course, part of the resort, isn't it?

This kind of either/or word choice decision happens frequently in SEO.  It's fundamental to the keyword discovery and research process.  To give your business an advantage in the rankings, we have to find you the best keywords to optimize- where we run into conflict is when either real web searches are for synonyms of your chosen words, that is, regular people are using different phrases than your business does.  Or customers may use several different words, but the less competitive option is not the word your business uses.

Another example is in real estate: people will search many different keywords for the same area, for example:

myrtle beach houses
myrtle beach home
myrtle beach real estate
myrtle beach home for sale
myrtle beach realtor
myrtle beach real estate agent
We have to choose the best one or two keywords based on popularity, competition, and relevance to your offerings.  Here's a possible quandry- realtors take pride in being a bit better than agents, but what if it turned out you'd get more business from the search engines for the phrase "real estate agent"?

We can help you resolve these conundrums, but first you must recognize the benefit to being flexible about word choices on your website.  Naturally there are things that can't be changed like business names, but as mentioned above, there are creative ways to manage them and get both the correct customer perception and search engine rankings benefit.
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