“Non-Commercial” Search Terms, SEO’s Future?

“Non-Commercial” Search Terms, SEO’s Future?


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We’ve briefly mentioned the possibility of targeting less commercial search terms before, but this subject is important enough that it deserves expanding upon. Here’s why “non-commercial” search terms are worth chasing, why they may become increasingly important, and how to approach them.

Untapped Potential

Keywords that are somewhat lacking in commercial appeal have one advantage over more commercial terms: low competition. Even some terms that are searched for quite regularly are relatively low in competition. It is generally much easier to rank for these keywords than for a term like “loans.”

Of course, competitive terms are competitive for a reason. Users that search for them are close to the bottom of the buying funnel, just inches away from making a purchase. Sites that do rank for these terms tend to have high conversion rates, and would tend to keep those conversion rates even if the sites themselves weren’t all that great.

But there is a trade-off. This high conversion rate comes at an enormous cost, where it can be difficult or almost impossible to rank for some of these terms. In contrast, many low-commercial terms are fairly easy to rank for, even if they generate quite a bit of traffic, since the conversion rate seems impossibly low.

Paid Search

Needless to say, many sites would prefer to cut in line by paying off Google, and the search engine is happy to oblige. A once small AdWords block has grown quite dramatically, sometimes consuming everything above the fold, at least on some devices. Google Shopping, Google+, and other Google properties also take up a growing amount of space as Google seeks out new ways to cash-in on these profitable keywords.

What separated Google from failed pay-to-play search engines like the former Overture was, and still is, the existence of relevant non-commercial organic search results that make users happy. Users that don’t want to buy anything can still use Google to find what they are looking for, and this is what keeps search engines alive.

In other words, non-commercial search terms are the only reason search engines in their current form exist at all. When it comes to shopping, most buyers couldn’t care less who they buy from. Even a consumer who will only buy an iPad, not one of its competitors, doesn’t care whether they buy it from Amazon or Apple.

Its information and entertainment that makes users care where they end up.

Playing the “Non-Commercial” Search Game

There are many advantages to chasing non-commercial keywords. The competition is lower, even if the traffic is high, and there are little or no advertisements to push you below the fold. Of course, that low conversion rate is nothing to laugh off, so you’ll need to approach these users differently. Here are a few tips.

– Chase after subscriptions, engagement, and social activity, not conversions. It might not seem like having an audience for your blog is all that helpful, until you realize that it’s equivalent to owning the TV network, instead of buying ads on it.

– Entertain and inform. When your audience starts to develop an emotional relationship with your brand, it becomes much easier to market to them. When you inform, you generate interest and you empower your audience. When you entertain, you elicit a wide variety of other emotions.

– Interact. Transform your subscriptions and social activities into conversations. This further solidifies your relationship with the audience so that they can become not just customers, but repeat customers.

– Leverage for SEO. It’s often much easier to obtain links for non-commercial content than for commercial content. Some in your audience may own blogs of their own. Even if they don’t, enough social activity can make you newsworthy enough to attract links from bloggers. It’s much less awkward to ask for links to non-commercial content than to ask somebody to link to your “buy hammers” page. These links boost domain authority which makes the more competitive search terms less of a pipe dream.

Do you see SEO moving toward less commercial search terms? How can you leverage these terms?

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