Why Keywords Are Not Enough: The Changing Face of Content

In selling antiques on August 20, 2010 at 1:16 am

A few months ago I suggested that folks in the antiques trade – from dealers to auctioneers – take a look at the words they are using to describe antiques.  Today, I’m back at the computer to talk about why the dusty words that explain the product are not helping you sell the product.

As a  wordsmith myself, I am in love with words. Some of favorites are great in conversation. They were great when I was writing for print. But on the Internet, these words sit so long that they grow cobwebs before anyone searches them.

By now, everyone knows that one of the challenges of the Internet is to get your keywords right and use them in the right places so that the search engines scan them.

Unfortunately, a lot of people get their keywords lined up and repeat, repeat, repeat them until the thing they’re writing about becomes a big yawn.  Reporters and headline writers were among the first affected by the keyword bug.  Headlines that used to be written to capture attention, draw the reader in and sell the story. Now headlines are written to attract spiders.

The challenge is not only to utilize your high traffic keywords and write well but to use the words that the Internet has popularized.

For instance, before the Internet, descriptive copy was copy. Then it became content and content became king. Today, content is still king only now it has many different faces.

While  more than 2,000,000 people search antique furniture globally each month, very few search  19th Century French Furniture or 18th English Oak. That’s the difference between the young Turks and the old guard.

In the auction world, where things are catalogued…well, isn’t cataloging something that goes along with index cards? Librarians used them. Junior specialists locked in closets examining and detailing collections used them. But people searching the web don’t catalog, they index. They like indexes. They’re familiar with indexes. So how about creating indexes of properties in an auction?

It’s not just about the number of times people search your keywords. It’s the way you use them to communicate. For instance, curate is a rich word that used to be bandied about museums and ivory towers.  Now, people curate content and curate party lists or curate sales proposals. Another new word is monetize. This used to be “make money from something.” Now it’s monitize your website or monitize your consignments.

Of course, once your viewers get past the search and onto your website, you are obligated to describe items as to what they are. But before you draw people into your lair where they might gain an education about the 19th Century, the 18th Century and all the rest, you need to lure them with words they use everyday in the course of business, SM, over drinks.

To reach the new buyers, you should really retool the way you approach content. If that means re-doing your website to reflect a content shift, do it. If it means re-thinking your ads and marketing materials, do it.  In direct mail, the teaser on the envelope was 80% of the sales process. On the internet, the teaser is your content.

If antiques are material culture and things from the 70s aren’t retro but are vintage (searched more than 4 times as often as retro), you’re talking the language of the younger collector.

Content rules so make sure you’re aiming it at the best target market.


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