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Define your finishing business by the “keyword” you keep

When a customer looks for finishing services you can bet most business people turn to Google, Bing or Yahoo’s search engine. If they know what they want but don’t know where to get it they start pecking a description into a search box—the process has become second nature. For the effort however, they expect instant, relevant search results that match what they’re thinking or they’re not happy. Few possess the patience to weed through pages of stuff they didn’t really ask for. Consider that your customers are no different. If a potential customer is online, looking for a solution to a problem, the company that shows up first on the results page often wins. The fact is if they are not finding your services quickly or I should say instantly, you’re both losing needlessly.

Do yourself a favor and take more control of your customers’ online experience by achieving a more competitive ranking. When you optimize for the search terms or “keywords” customers actually use, you will (very likely) improve your search rankings. Do it effectively and you begin to target potential customers who are looking for your services online. So if you have a finishing business with a website, begin wrapping your head around a keyword strategy. Identify and attract the search terms you want—you can even shield yourself from the ones you don’t want. It’s a fundamental step to “organically” optimizing your website and key to greater online success. Here’s how keywords literally define your business and unlock potential.

Keywords are code for “help me”

First, a “keyword” functions more like a key than a word. And a keyword is as much a phrase—or a combination of several words—as it is a single word. What’s important is to think of keywords as a combination lock code customers use to open the door to your online business including your website, LinkedIn page and more. Your job, should you choose to accept, is to program your lock to accept relevant customer keywords. To get the customer online, get the combination—own your keywords!

You would certainly hate to miss out on a contract simply because you didn’t use the same words to describe your services as your customer used in their search. For example, if someone was looking for a supplier with expertise in finishing plastics with scuff resistant finishes, he might use the keyword “finishing, plastic, scuffing.” But if your keywords were “expert, abrasion resistant protection” you may not have a match, therefore you might never meet this customer. You could actually lose out to a lesser competitor that ranked higher in search simply because they had the keyword “plastics, scuffing” and you did not. In such unfortunate circumstances, your business would then be defined by the keyword you didn’t keep.

Goal of the keyword: increase traffic to your website

The whole point to a keyword strategy is increase relevant traffic to your website. To do that, you have to rank as high as possible on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) or people will not see you. It’s yet another way customers write the rules. Consider new research data that show the majority of Internet searchers do not look past page one of SERP!

Of course, ranking #1 in Google or any other engine is only as good as the relevance of the results to the user. Google suggests that you can be more relevant when build your website for visitors, and not for search engines—they frown on stuffing your website with keywords. The challenge is, the Web is crowded. You’re not the only one who wants to be on the first page of SERP when someone types “finishing expert.” Learn a bit more about keywords and SEO in order to better optimize your online presence.

My last word: who needs this?

If you think about where your business comes from, the Internet may not rise to top of mind. The majority of business people will affirm, referrals are number one. Nothing comes close to the value of a good, qualified referral. And then there are trade shows and articles, case studies, editorial mentions, word of mouth and of course, direct marketing and sales efforts.

Now think about what has to happen before you actually get the call for a new project or account. You can bet, if they’re calling you, they’ve already checked you out first. I’m certain you do this yourself. We humans like to be educated when it comes to large purchases and uncharted territory. We want to know, beforehand, if we can imagine doing business with someone we don’t yet know—so we do our research first.

Now think about how many of these various sales channels ultimately depend upon someone being able to find your business on the Internet? I would offer that it’s very likely ALL of them. Even a strong referral is going to check you out before the first call is ever made. They want to size you up. They need to see that your business is legit. They might want to know beforehand if your geographic location is relevant to their needs. Or they may just want to learn how to spell your name correctly. Who knows? In short, everyone needs what the Internet has to offer. You just have to learn to define yourself before they do.


As usual the customer holds the keys. If you don’t subscribe to the locks they use, you’re irrelevant and sharp-shooting in the largest web ever created by man. Supply chain players, like small finishing businesses, do little else to market themselves. With your website open 24/7, picking the top five keywords for your business should be a no-brainer. Look at keywords from your customers’ perspective—remember who has the combination.

I welcome your comments, questions or more discussion.