By Chris Abraham


You probably built your website years ago by now. You’ve probably never updated your CV, just added your latest jobs and clients to the top. Your corporate bio, what you do, your products and services were probably written back either when your company opened, when you ported your brochures to the web, or the last time you did a major revision. Like I said, probably years ago.

Admit it

Why does this matter? Because language evolves very rapidly and how it evolves has little or nothing to do with what you call yourself, how you describe you your products and services, or the keywords you have locked and loaded into your tweets, your websites, your hashtags, your textual links, your Google AdWords contextual ad campaigns, your Facebook ad programs and Twitter promoted tweets.

And, if you don’t call your services what others are searching for, you’ll be surprisingly invisible when it comes to your prospects finding you on the Internet — and if you don’t add the exact, literal, titles, subjects, hashtags, and keywords that people are using to find you and your valuable services, then you won’t be found at all.

As I have said again and again, Google may well be the most sophisticated, intuitive, and relevant search engine going, but there’s a terrible secret that even Google doesn’t want you to know about when it comes to folks searching for and finding you:

Google plays dumb until it needs to be smart

Google is amazingly painfully literal and only gets smart and clever when and if it can’t find relevant results that satisfy its customers immediately and easily. When it can’t find what you’re looking for, Google will search its databases for name variation, for light synonyms, and the like — but if Google Search doesn’t need to be ingenious, then it’ll just be useful, serving only results that explicitly mention the exact keyword strings that the customer shoehorns into search.

Why, you may ask, does it play dumb? Well, being smart is very resource-intensive so if Google’s literal, all it had to do is find a match in it’s cached-and-prepped index — literal is quicker, simpler, and mostly a better result than when Google tries too hard to be clever — it’s win-win, until it doesn’t result in you or your business anywhere to be found. And that’s your fault, man — own up!

Let me give you a personal example

When I started in digital, what I did was called new media marketing. Then it became social media marketing, then blogger outreach, then digital PR and digital marketing. Another example is a service I offered which cleaned bad search engine results off of Google. I called it defensive SEO then defensive search. Now it’s called Online Reputation Management (ORM).

And, who knows what digital PR and ORM will be called in the future? It’s always evolving and one needs to not only keep up with what the professional wordsmiths and copywriters are calling what we do, it’s also what sticks, what people adopt, and finally, what people call what you and I do if they’re not part of our acronym-loving digital Internet cabal — we’re very often way too clever for our own good.

So, have you brainstormed recently? Have you interviewed your friends, clients, mom, dad, high school mates, wife, husband, kids, and colleagues? To ask them when they would search for were they involved in a particular scenario and needed someone to perform a service like yours?