Short Cuts. Sometimes they pay off, sometimes they don’t. Quite often when I use my car’s GPS the “short” way seems to the most congested and slowest way. The same can also be true in search marketing.
We have discovered a couple of instances of how abbreviations have been a problem for some of our clients in the last couple of weeks, both in PPC and SEO.
Abbreviations in PPC Ad Copy
The only time you should use abbreviations for your PPC ad copy is if your keywords associated with that ad are also abbreviations. You get no benefit from from using the word “Small Biz” as a replacement for the word “small business” in your ad copy if all of your keywords tied to that ad use the word “small business”. We have had clients that have used the word small biz. in their ad copy as a replacement for business and as a result their quality scores have been terrible on those keywords. This has a dramatic effect on the costs of their clicks. As illustrated below (courtesy of ClickEquations), a Quality Score of 2 or 3 can be prohibitively expensive:
When your ad copy matches the keyword searched those matching words are made BOLD in the ad copy. This has a significant effect on improving your click through rate and ad rank, which also improves keyword Quality Score. I personally have seen the impact of Quality Score improvement just by pausing an ad that doesn’t match the keywords and activating an ad that does utilize the keywords searched. The impact can be immediate, the Quality Score numbers sometimes improve even before the new ad even accrues a click.
Impact on SEO – Abbreviations in Web Content
If the common way to search for something (especially with your target audience) is with abbreviations or acronyms then use them in your copy – but it’s a good idea to also spell them out in the same copy. Unfortunately, the reality is abbreviations are usually used in instances of laziness when it comes to writing for the web.
You especially need spell things out when you are selling a product sold by many other competitors are selling online. Say you are selling a textbook like: “Advanced Algebra Volume 1”. Using “Adv. Algebra Vol. 1” instead will put you at a distinct disadvantage in search. With very few exceptions, search engines can not expand abbreviations.
If you want to get that same book title to show up in comparison shopping engines like Google Shopping you also need to use the EXACT book title in your content and shopping feeds. If you don’t, you will be on the outside looking in.
The key to search is to be relevant to what people are looking for. Most of the time you have got to literally spell that out to be found.