Unlikely Industries

  |  August 10, 2010   |  Comments

People searching online have always been ahead of the people offering the search results. Maybe it's time to change that.

When I started my company in 1999, I never dreamed farmers and seed companies would be a major part of my business.

But today, that's the case. I'm doing a surprising amount of work in those fields (haha).

Last week, I did an all day workshop for the Iowa Women in Agriculture. The topic was focused on social media. These women farmers were highly focused using the Web for promoting very specific aspects of their farm.

One woman told a story of an order for beef that fell through. She put an offer for the beef up on her Facebook page to see if anyone else was interested. She immediately sold it. She said she could have sold twice what she had.

Look at some of these search numbers for seed-related phrases:

KeywordGlobal Monthly Searches
soybean 550,000
seed corn 60,500
soybean corn 6,600
organic soybean 4,400
corn soybeans 3,600
hybrid seed corn 1,900
soybean varieties 1,600
roundup soybean 1,000

I used the Google Keyword Tool to find those phrases.

These are very niche phrases with a surprising number of searches. Some of these phrases, like "soybean varieties," "roundup soybean," and "hybrid seed corn" are phrases that would most likely only be used by people within the farming industry. They aren't typically how an outsider to the industry would search.

Additionally, the Free Keyword Tool from Wordstream pulls up even more niche phrases. It showed me over 1,500 phrases with the phrase "seed corn." That phrase (and not "corn seed") is important because that's how farmers typically refer to it.

Here are some of those phrases:

dekalb seed corn
seed corn companies
lg seed corn
seed corn treatment
seed corn idaho
seed corn for sale
seed corn dealers idaho
seed corn dealers
seed corn canada
roundup ready seed corn
pioneer seed corn
zimmerman seed corn evansville indiana

These are very targeted, incredibly niche phrases. These are phrases that are being done by people who are late in the buying cycle, are narrowing down their buying decisions, and are getting ready to make a choice.

Chances are, you aren't in the farming or seed business. But there is a chance that you might be in an industry where you think "social media and search engine marketing isn't for me."

A recent study from the Yankee Group commissioned by Siemens Enterprise Communications found that "70 Percent of Consumers Want to Interact Via Social Media. Yet Only 30 Percent of Companies are Ready For It."

And back in March of 2009, Conductor did a study that found only 20.82 percent of Fortune 500 companies rank in the top 100 of natural search results. This included phrases with their own name!

I was recently teaching a two-day search engine optimization class at Cleveland State University...something I've been doing for several years. The class I was teaching only had three students in it. I asked the class why they thought that was. Their response was that they thought it was "just so new."

I've been doing search engine optimization since 1999 in my own company. And I wasn't anywhere near the first group of people to be doing it. SEO (define) being "new" was a shocker to me.

My experience has been that the people searching have always been ahead of the people offering the search results.

People are clearly looking for seed companies online. But this fact is a brand new concept to most seed companies.

Chances are very good that someone who is reading this column works for a company that isn't capitalizing on the Web marketing traffic that's going on right now.

The "Iowa Sweet Corn" Facebook page has over 106,000 fans. It's all about sweet corn in Iowa, and 106,000 want to know about it. If all those people are interested in corn, could there be people who are interested in what you sell?

I'm telling you, your industry is likely being researched online right now.

I also suspect that, if you are reading this column, I may be preaching to the choir. You may already know what I'm talking about. But people higher up in your company could be completely unaware of what is happening.

My suggestion is to try either of those key phrase research tools I mentioned. Look for some possible key phrases that people might be using to search for your product or service. Take a handful of these phrases. Put them in a simple e-mail. And send them off to someone in your marketing department (the higher the better).

You could say something like: "Did you know that the phrase 'hybrid seed corn' was searched 1,900 times in Google last month? We are nowhere to be found on those listings. Let me know if you would like to talk about how we could solve that problem."

You could be a real hero in your organization.

Oh...and if you don't know exactly how to solve the problem, don't worry. There are tons of great resources on this site to help you move along the Internet marketing path.

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Sage Lewis

Sage Lewis is the president of SageRock Digital Marketing. SageRock has been a leader in Web marketing since 1999, offering search engine optimization, paid search marketing, social media marketing, and analytics.

Sage speaks nationally with SES and other prominent Web marketing organizations. He is one of the most sought after speakers and coaches in the field of Web marketing. From coast to coast, Sage has trained, coached, and consulted with some of the largest brands and conferences in the country.

Sage is also "The Web Marketing Video Guy" with nearly 500 Web marketing videos published. Sage writes as an expert for ClickZ in the "Search Engine Marketing" section. He lives in Akron, Ohio with his wife, Rocky, and son, Indiana.

His columns can be found in the Search Engine Watch archive.

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