All the good words are taken

A friend is getting ready to publish a video. She worked hard on it, for months and months, and she wants it to be seen by the right people.

The traditional SEO strategy is to be sure to title it and describe it with magic words that will help her get ‘found.’ And so, words like ‘visualize’, ‘learn’ or even ‘transform’ are high on the list, because, after all, that’s what a lot of people search for. (‘LOL cats’ is high on the list as well, but irrelevant to the topic at hand).

And the same thing goes for websites. The traditional advice is to make sure that your keywords reflect what the mass of searches that might be interested in you would line up with.

So, name your plumbing company, “Emergency cheap plumbing”…

Here’s the problem: You’re not going to win that search.

You’re not even going to come in 1000th place.

For most of the magic words that nascent marketers seek to do well on, there are millions and millions of matches in the search engines. And many of the folks on top are bending more rules and working harder on this trick than you’re likely to be able to match.

The alternative?

Own your word.

If you search for ‘purple cow’ or ‘seth godin’ or ‘seth’s blog’ you’re way more likely to find me than if you search for something generic.

That’s intuitive. But it’s not obvious because it flies in the face of what we hope the search engines will do for us, which is to expose us to people who didn’t know we existed.

Accepting that this is unlikely opens the door to a better strategy.

After all, they’re not called ‘browsing engines.’

The hard part is showing up in the right way, in the right places, for enough time that people decide to seek you or your word out in the first place. The hard part is in doing the deliberate, slow work of earning permission, building a tiny circle, the smallest viable audience. Over time, the tribe embraces you, the word (your word) becomes the shortcut to get more of what you offer.

And so, if you’re Acumen, Afya or BuildOn, that’s your word. Or Fuller, Kiva or LongNow.  A word that someone who seeks you will use to get to you.

FEO–Find Engine Optimization. Because it’s more reliable to seek to be found by people who were looking for you all along.