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3 Ways To Avoid Ambiguity In Online Marketing

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Although being mysterious might come in handy in your love life, or when you want something, or when you’re trying to get away with something, it’s rarely beneficial in the world of online marketing. Being ambiguous, or seemingly meaning two different things, is a huge problem for search engines because they cannot always use context clues. Although humans may be able to distinguish what you mean when you use a word or phrase, you could be missing the search engine bots completely.

Writing for readers is of course your number-one priority as an online marketer, but it’s possible to write for readers while still keeping ambiguity in mind. Ambiguity is often used in the titles of articles, PPC campaigns, Meta descriptions, and so on.

How Ambiguity Works in Online Marketing

The example I always like to give is using the word “hawks.” If someone were to type this word into a search engine search bar, there are many different things that the search engine could think that the user wants. In other words, the word means something different based on the context. For example:

  • An eye like a hawk. If this is in the title of a PPC campaign or an organic result, the search engine will pull these results.
  • A person who is pro-war in discussions or debates.
  • The bird. Someone might simply be looking for information about a hawk.
  • A Chicago Blackhawk. Being that this is a very popular search query, it makes sense that Google might show you these results.

Although a searcher might know what he/she is looking for, Google simply does not. This means that you are competing with all of these different companies and articles that may not even be relevant to the user you’re trying to reach. Why should you have to compete for a spot amongst Blackhawk ads when you’re trying to reach the birdwatchers? The truth is—you don’t have to compete if you craft your campaigns correctly.

How to Avoid Ambiguity in Online Marketing

Once online marketers understand ambiguity, this is usually a problem that can be easily avoided. However, it can be tough to catch a second meaning of something if you have it in your head to mean one thing. It makes sense to you, and you move on with your day. To make absolutely sure you’re being clear in your PPC campaigns and article titles, consider a few of these tips:

1.     Use long-tail keywords when bidding for a PPC campaign.

This tip can be used when discussing PPC. If you can avoid bidding on one keyword and instead focus on long-tail keywords, you likely won’t be showing up in ambiguous searches. Why? Because you’re giving a little bit more context, which will help tip off search engines when it comes time to decipher what you mean.

2.     Make sure that you consider all possible implications of a word.

This tip goes for PPC as well as organic. It may sound obvious, but if you’re going to optimize an article for a certain keyword and a long-tail keyword isn’t in the cards, you must stop to think about the other meanings of the word. Ask your friends and utilize online dictionaries to make sure that there isn’t an alternate meaning. If there is, consider using a synonym of the word if that makes sense for your marketing strategy.

3.     Exclude alternate meaning keywords from your campaign.

When dealing with PPC campaigns, you can actually choose words that you don’t want associated with your campaign. These are called “negative keywords” and this will ensure that you’re getting rid of the traffic that you don’t want.

Also remember that if you find out that you’re generating irrelevant clicks, there are ways to change your strategy. You can turn off a PPC campaign whenever you’d like, and you can go into the back end of your website and change your Meta data for any given article or heading.

Have you ever dealt with ambiguity in online marketing? Let us know your story in the comments below!

Image: Ambiguity by Shutterstock

About the Author

Amanda DiSilvestro is a graduate of Illinois State University. Although she graduated with an English Education degree, she found herself working as a full-time blogger in the SEO/social media department at the HigherVisibility.com, HigherVisibility SEO Company, a leading Ecommerce SEO firm.

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