April 17, 2019
Customers determine the keywords that trigger high ranking results on search engines. Not search experts. Writers Marketing Directors, or even SEOs. Keep in mind that search engines are incentivized to pull up the most useful results on page one. Why? Google shows related ads. And every time an ad is clicked an advertiser pays.
With non-branded keywords, we look for various combinations of words and monitor how they perform.
The same holds true for branded searches that contain your company’s brand name and/or your product’s brand name(s). They deserve special attention. These are the terms used by brand-aware patients or doctors who are the closest to booking an appointment or purchasing a medical device. Branded traffic to your website is also the primary source of organic traffic for most hospitals, clinics, and medical device manufacturers.
So, how do search engines know your brand names? They read the copy on your website. All of it. This text is often written with rules from your house style guide, a standard style guide, such as AP, or the University of Chicago Manual of Style, and some people just wing it!
These style guides are incredibly useful to writers and readers for consistent usage and grammar.
The style books don’t invent search terms, consumers do. It’s doubtful that a doctor would search for “Zoom Microsurgical Technologies,” but she might search for Zoom microscopes, Zoom Neuro, or X23. This means that the words doctors and patients use in everyday life are the most powerful search terms.
That makes the words doctors and patients use in real life to talk about the most powerful.
Let’s consider searches that would lead directly to Zoom Microsurgical Microscopes. (Incidentally, no real doctor would enter Zoom Microsurgical Microscopes in Google.) Their brands include a Zoom X90 MicroNeuro Neurosurgical Microscope™, The Zoom X45 OptoMicro Ophthalmic Microscope™; and the Zoom X23 SurgMicro, Surgical Microscope for General Surgery. Those are quite a mouthful, or a 13-course meal, which your customer will send back to the kitchen.
Below, we’ve broken out branded keyword variations for our hypothetical microscope company.
Zoom is a generic word with little SEO value by itself. Go ahead, look it up in your favorite search engine. These are the type of terms:
X90, X45, X23
Model numbers can produce top results for some companies, but it’s best to pair it with another modifier, e.g. Zoom X90
This is the product’s brand name. It must rank on page one of the results.
Count on doctors to create their own words referring to Zoom. Simple variations might include Micro X90, Neuro X90, X90 Mic, Zoom X90. If you multiply the searches above by three, for the three brands, you’ll already have a substantial keyword set of branded terms.
And maybe you’ll be lucky enough to receive a nickname, like “The Giraffe,” or the “Hospital Hilton.” Marketing people like to dream.
Zero in on the most effective brand terms
The best way to discover search terms is to find out what keywords doctors use to search. Check your SEO software, but better yet, go to the source, Google Analytics (GA). There’s a “Search Query” Tab which shows the terms used for nearly every search that your website ranked. You’ll find it here from GA’s home page: Acquisition / Search Console /Queries. This assumes you've already connected your Search Console to GA.
This report provides also gives data on search volume and how many users clicked on the term. Scan the entire report and you may find instances where an important term ranks poorly but has a high volume. Those are gems waiting for you to incorporate in your site.
Another reason to care about brand name variations
Google isn’t your MaMaws search engine. The first versions of the algorithm were emphasized keywords and their number within a page. That changed in 2012 with the advent of semantic search. Semantic search is based on natural language, which corresponds to conversations and the terms we use in real life. Semantic search scores high when Google finds a strong central theme. For a hospital’s bariatric unit, for example, we would expect to find words like bariatric surgery, bariatric eating, bariatric clinic, bariatric Syracuse.
By year’s end, voice search will become the dominant mode of finding information on the web. And what is voice search built on? Semantic search and natural language.
Good luck infusing brand name variations into your site. Call for help.