Should Consultants Call Themselves Consultants?

Blog Categories:  Internet Marketing  

Many consultants I work with dislike referring to themselves as consultants. They think the word consultant has a bad connotation and furthermore, does not accurately describe their services or methodology.

In terms of consultant being a trigger word, they are absolutely correct, at least in my experience. When I was in the corporate world and a consultant contacted me, I thought -

  • Expensive
  • Unfamiliar with our needs
  • Theoretical
  • Long meetings
  • Loss of control
  • No results

Not exactly the kind of thoughts that would warm me up to hiring this person. But here's the rub. Whenever I was looking for outside assistance, what word do you think I used in my online and offline search?

You guessed it - consultant.

And this is the problem. Consultant is a popular search term. When consultants describe themselves differently, they inevitably use terminology people are not familiar with. Since people are not familiar with it, they don't search for it. If a consultant's website is not optimized for any keyword phrases that include the word consultant, they may very well be invisible on Google. Yet, if the website is full of consultant terminology, it undermines branding, which is also critically important. What is a consultant to do? I'd love to hear from you, because I don't have a precise answer - there may not be one. Here are a few thoughts, though.

Branding has to take priority over search engine optimization (SEO). You can trust my sincerity on this point, since I provide SEO copywriting services. So why do I say this? A person has to be true to his brand, otherwise the brand is just so much hype. If you position yourself as a consultant on your website, you may attract lots of search traffic. But what happens when the searchers get to know you? They'll see that your website and you don't mesh, and that will be the end of that.

How anti-consultant are you? Some business services professionals are truly and deeply committed to a non-consultant brand. I don't think they should make compromises. Other consultants, however, are less deeply committed. If they view the internet as a viable means of attracting clients, they should consider optimizing their site for one or two keyword phrases that include consultant.

Find a different SEO strategy. If you don't use consultant as part of your keyword strategy, we need to work extra hard to find other keyword phrases that will attract qualified search traffic. The good news is, there are plenty out there. Finding the right fit ... not always so easy. What you should never do is abandon your website as a source of qualified search traffic. You're doing yourself and your potential clients a serious disservice by making your unique value invisible.

How have you overcome the consultant problem?

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