Thursday was library day.
My sisters and I would frantically look for our books from last visit. We’d check them against a list in a notepad dad made us keep in the car. When we were ready, we’d buckle our seat-belts and wait for dad to finish brushing his teeth and take us.
It was a sacred family ritual.
He only let us check out 3 books each. Sometimes, if I begged hard enough, I could get my father to make an exception for one more book. And before we took our week’s reading home, we were made to write the titles and authors into dad’s notepad.
I remember this one book. It was part of a dated British series made for children on technology and computers. Its title was “How to Create Your Own Computer Controlled Robot” by Usborne.
For months, I was obsessed with the project. I came home from school, headed straight for the yellow pages, and called every electronics shop in Auckland. I asked about foreign brands and old component names no one had ever heard of.
I spent my afternoons in the dark amongst the spiders under my family home–Searching for the exact colour combination or code on some tiny electronic part.
That’s where all my projects got their parts.
The technician for the Architecture college where my father worked was kind to me. He passed onto me junk radios, amplifiers, and computer circuits he didn’t need.
Mum didn’t like my mess. So she made me keep my “electronic junk” under the house. There, I’d meticulously scan every soldered component on every circuit board trying to find what I needed. It would take hours. But under the house I usually had more luck than with the electronics shops.
When I found the part, I’d excitedly get out hunched, scratched, and sore. I’d take the entire board to my room, and unsolder the component. Sometimes I made mistakes. Sometimes I just forgot the colour code or part number I needed. And I was usually back under the house within minutes, repeating the exercise for another part.
Electronics and pieces of solder were scattered all over my bedroom–on the table, in the carpet, sometimes in my blanket. It was a mess that frustrated my mother to no end.
I scavanged for those parts until I gathered all the resistors, transistors, and motors that the book said I needed. And finally, I was ready to build my robot.
Sometimes, when looking online today, I’m reminded of being 13 crouched under the house scanning for parts. Unlike the library, the Internet has no order. It’s a giant mess of pages and sites all linked together. Could you imagine what it would be like Â without search engines like Google?
Search engines bring order to an otherwise disorganised and messy medium.
They make it easy for us to find answers to pressing questions with a quick search. We’ve gotten used to having every answer we ever wished for, only a few key-strokes away.
Maybe we’ve grown spoilt. I mean, we expect a lot from our search:
We expect it to read our minds and know we’re looking for a recipe when we type ambiguous queries likeÂ “enchiladis”. Or that we’re looking for a printer cartridge when we type “UR-1320C”.
- We want the search engine to correct our spelling mistakes
- We want it to ignore our typos
- We make it define words for us
- We want it to calculate conversions from metric to empirial units
- We expect it to give us the weather forecast
- We’re so darn lazy, we don’t even bother to type website addresses any more, we just search for them and ignore the “com” or “net” extensions.
Yet, few advertisers make the effort of targeting keywords besides the most obvious. If a keyword requires creativity or leg-work to think of, it’s overlooked.
Well, searchers don’t stop searching or spending just because no one bothers to show them an ad. They’re just more likely to buy from the handful of advertisers who do show up with an answer when the searcher asks.
Had Google been around when I wanted robot parts at 13, imagine the havoc I would have brought to the search…
I wouldn’t have looked for something obvious like “electronic components”. I would’ve looked for transistor codes and weird words from the book like Veroboard instead of “circuit board”. I would’ve been searching for “100K ohm” and “green cap capacitor”. Sadly, most advertisers wouldn’t have found me.
Few merchants take the effort to bid on measuring units, common variations on the names of components they stock, and the names of their brands and model numbers.
Yet, these are the kind of searches that the average internet user expects to find answers for.
There’s an infinity of queries your website might match. Searchers come from all walks of life, all ages, all levels of literacy, and have different cultural backgrounds, language, and ethnicity. They all deserve answers to their question.
As an advertiser, you can only guess at the way your target customer will word his or her queries. Because of this, I usually test hundreds of thousands of keywords to find 4 or 5 that result in sales.
While this guessing and testing is a bit of a drag, it is worth the effort because competition will NEVER be a problem for the creative advertiser. No matter how competitive or saturated a market gets, there will always be new questions, and infinite ways people will word them.
To learn more of Jim’s PPC advertising techniques, check out PPC Domination.