Relevance: How you get buyers

What does relevance mean?

Relevance is the most important – and the most misunderstood – concept in search engine marketing. The problem is not in it’s complexity, but rather in its simplicity. Let’s start with Google’s definition:

Definition of relevance - according to Google

It is not complicated – but it is frequently misunderstood

It’s a concept. It isn’t measured in a unit, like feet or degrees. This is a relative measure of how your campaigns and website match up with a particular set of search terms typed in by a potential customer on Google. Let’s look at an example. If someone types these search terms into Google:

“24 hour walk in burn care in homestead florida”

Google compares those search terms against the keywords in every qualified campaign in Google Ads. Relevance is how Google decides if it should show your ad – instead of anyone else’s. So imagine that if you had an entire campaign and website dedicated to those terms, you’d probably score pretty high on the relevance scale.

Relevance is why Google will (or will not) show your ad

In the competition for potential customers, Google favors campaigns and web sites with the most relevance to what the person is searching for. So, having campaigns and a landing page that focus on one particular customer need will outperform any campaign that does not.

The “winner” in search marketing is the one who successfully plays the relevance game. You can win customers with low bids on very specific search terms with ads and landing pages that are also specific. Or you can spend a ton of money for a lot more clicks on more generic search terms. Which do you think will be profitable?

Relevance has three dimensions

To understand the details of “what someone seems to be looking for” (as stated in Google’s definition of relevance – above), let’s break each search into three parts (or dimensions): where, what, and how.

Let’s call those three dimensions: Geography, Products/Services, and Features. Or GPF.

  • Geography This could be as big as which country (because of shipping and taxes) or as small as which zip code, in the case of pizza delivery zones. “Near me” is a bit of geographic relevance customers type in.
  • Products/Services This could be as generic as any roll of paper towels or as specific as one brand of high-capacity industrial crane made specifically for lifting windows. It can also be any combination of goods and services together.
  • Features This could cover anything else. Such as price, discount, delivery time, contracting terms, color, insurance coverage, options, customization, warranty, disposal, etc. “When”, as in now or soon or 24 hour, are good things to consider here.

In order to play the relevance game, we’re going to have to become very good at combining the G,P, and the F in our campaigns. Your goal in your campaign is to be as specific as you can in identifying these and grabbing customers when you match up on them.

But first, we’re going to have to understand how the real buyers (of what we are selling) use GPF terms to go about searching for it.

You and your customer: A marriage of relevance

Example. People looking to get their manual transmission fixed may use some generic search terms (like manual transmission) in their first Google search. And the SERP they get back will be a mess of geographies, products/services, and features. Not a fix for their transmission.

Let’s say you fix manual transmissions in Denver and you want to get some new customers. If your keyword said: manual transmissions, you’re going to get a lot of clicks. Few of them would be customers. If your keyword said: fix manual transmission in denver, you’re going to get a lot fewer clicks.

And a much higher percentage are going to be customers.


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