Target non standard SEO keywords using your forums

image If you want your customers to find your content using particular keywords, it is fairly important to use those words on your pages, ideally in the body AND the title.  The more competitive a particular keyword is, the more important it becomes to use it in titles, body and links to your page.

But what if the most popular searches for a particular topic are not ‘politically correct’?  Or do not fit in with your established corporate writing guidelines?

image Let’s imagine that you manage a support website for a software company, which has a product called ‘Super Spreadsheet’.  Super Spreadsheet has a bug causing it to regularly stop responding.  What do you think customers are going to search for when looking for help with this problem?

  • ‘Super Spreadsheet stops responding’?

. . .probably not!  They are more likely to search for one of these. . .

  • ‘Super Spreadsheet freezes’
  • ‘Super Spreadsheet crashes’
  • ‘Super Spreadsheet locks up’

In fact, by looking at popular search queries on search engines, we can see that ‘freezes’ is the most popular term for this type of query.

imageGuidelines, Guidelines, Guidelines. . .

But internal publishing standard policies will often recommend against using such language on corporate websites.  Even if this is a common customer problem, there will most likely be plenty of people inside the company who would object to having page titles using ‘freezes’ and ‘crashes’ due to the potentially negative effects it could have on brand and customer perception.

Translation. . .

Localisation teams may also object to the use of ‘spreadsheet freezes’ since it may be interpreted incorrectly by machine or manual translators. . .


So how are you supposed to rank well for these searches?  There are plenty of pages out on the web using ‘freezes’ and ‘crashes’ in their page titles, particularly in forums, blogs and other community sites where users directly control the language used in page titles and content.  Those pages are likely to be ranking better than your ‘stops responding’ page, since they use the exact keywords as your customers are searching for.

However, if you have forums or other community generated content on your site, you may have an opportunity to resolve this problem, ensuring that your customers arrive on your site when using non-standard language. . .

1) Check your forums for posts written by your customers using the keywords you are trying to target. . .


2) Check that the posts have a valid answer from the appropriate users on your site. . . (or if they don’t provide a suitable answer yourself)


3) If possible, mark the post as ‘answered’ and lock it to prevent any additional posts

4) Link to the post from related content on your site, including…

    • The Super Spreadsheet central help and support page
    • The Super Spreadsheet Stops Responding troubleshooting page
    • Other similar/related forum posts from your site
    • Forum posts on external websites (which do not use NOFOLLOW)
    • Any other related pages on your site


In other words, instead of creating a page on your website using the ‘non standard’ keywords, simply take steps to raise the PageRank of the forum content on your site which already uses the words your customers are searching for.

The more links you have pointing to the post, from important sections of your site (i.e. those with high PageRank), the more popular it will be considered by the search engines (i.e. it’s PageRank will be higher), and the higher it will rank against similar content from other sites.

I would love to hear from anyone who gives this a try.

Please feel free to contact me if you need any further explanation!

Comments (1)

  1. Rick Blythe says:

    Interesting article, but don’t I want to increase the ranking of my forum posts, I want to increase the ranking of my official documentation. After all, that’s where the answer to the problem is.

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