The Language of Search Marketing

    August 3, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Every industry has its lingo, its own internal jargon. Language has a tendency develop on its own, especially within more isolated sub-groups. But there is also a macro level to it, pervasive word couplings people used when seeking specific results.

The Language of Search Marketing
The Language of Search Marketing

Consider whether something is "inexpensive" or "cheap," "pre-owned" or "used." There are very subtle forces at work that marketers have been aware of for decades. Ask yourself why sometimes an item is $19.99 and sometimes it is $20.

Lowering the price by a penny is purposeful, as it signals "discount" or "sale," and is designed to get your attention, to make you, on a more subconscious level, think you’re getting a deal. However, if the seller wants to convey quality rather than discount, if he wants to create an impression of value, he leaves it at a nice round $20, because nice things aren’t discounted.

(Just as an aside, if you’ve noticed that products on infomercials are nearly always $19.95, or broken up into payments of $19.95, it’s because the general rule is that just about everybody’s got an extra 20 bucks lying around. You get to the $25 or above range and people start to think about it harder.)

The point is symbols and words are powerful because they naturally and subconsciously convey certain meanings – you might use the word "connotation." So I found it very interesting, on the Hitwise blog, Sandra Hanchard’s exploration of words searchers pair with products and services.  

"It’s interesting to measure the search terms that consumers use when determining value on products or services, such as ‘prices’, ‘sale’, ‘deals’, ‘cheap’, ‘used’ and ‘vintage’," she writes.

"The term ‘prices’ appears to be commonly associated with stocks and commodities, such as iron ore and gold. Consumer big-ticket items such as cars, boats and homes are searched for in combination with the term ‘sale’."

The terms "deals" and "cheap" are most often paired with travel – hotels and airfares mostly. And "vintage," as you might imagine shows up with collectibles, like Barbie dolls and t-shirts.

There’s a lot more research on searcher language pairs that can be done, and Hanchard nearly promises to fill us in on more in the future.

"My initial finding (whether it’s obvious or not) is that product categories appear to have different language rules from a consumer perspective."

And knowing those language rules can be invaluable to search marketers trying to get into the minds of the searchers.