We are by no means search engine optimisation experts (but if you’re looking for one, speak to our partner company Adigi Ltd!) but we are increasingly using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to give clients an insight into the language that their audiences speak – and help them get on the same wavelength as their customers.

Years ago airlines realised that they had been talking about ‘low cost fares’ when their customers were actually searching for ‘cheap flights’. This is a classic example of how businesses miss a trick by using their own industry jargon when trying to communicate with customers/the outside world.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is used to identify keywords related to your product or service that get lots of searches and use them to get you to the top of a Google search for that word/phrase – both by adapting the content on your own website and building ‘backlinks’ to your site from other websites. However, SEO is often employed at the expense of good communications and customer engagement so that when people visit your website, they find it littered with keywords but not useful content that tells them a coherent story about what you have to offer and how it is of use to them. Likewise, ‘backlinks’ are often chased without much thought going into where that endorsement is coming from.

Where SEO can be really useful from a communications point of view is in understanding the language that your customers speak and then using that insight to create high quality content and get high quality endorsements from others which speak that language in an engaging way. This isn’t just about what is on your website but also what is in your brochure, how you communicate internally, the language you speak at networking events and in client meetings and, importantly, in your social media content.

We have recently been working with a commercial interiors company to demonstrate how social media could help them reach business owners direct. What we showed them in terms of the words and phrases they were using in comparison to the words and phrases that people were searching surprised them – and us! For example, whilst ‘commercial interiors’ gets 3,600 local monthly searches on Google, ‘office design’ gets 27,100 and whilst ‘workspace planning’ gets 58 local monthly searches on Google ‘office planning’ gets 40,500!

So, take a step back and think about your brand communications – are you speaking in the language of your customers?