My Client Invented a Term. I Said They Couldn’t Use It

They wanted to make it the focus of an SEO strategy

My client had invented a term and they wanted to make it the focus of their SEO strategy.

The inventive folks at (now developed a physical greeting card with a creative twist. When you scan the barcode on the card, your cell phone accesses a personal video message from the sender. With their card you can close the distance from a loved one and deliver a more nuanced and personal message. One part physical card, one part digital message.

To emphasize this, coined the word “phygital.”

It is a clever term. A portmanteau, jamming the words physical and digital together, just as their product did. It was really rather a genius sort of word that fit their new concept perfectly.

But I saw right away that emphasizing this word would make for a lousy SEO strategy.

Not because it translated poorly.

It wasn’t the same as Chevrolet’s famous decision to name their new 1962 model the “Nova.” Sure, we know that a nova is an emergent star. However, in Spanish, this translates to “no go.”

Not because its words had a second NSFW meaning, like the North Korean video streaming service Manbang.

They were convinced that their clever new term was the perfect encapsulation of their product. And they were right.

So what was the problem?

So, if it’s safe for work, and clever, and sums up their work well, why did I think they should not build an SEO strategy around “phygital”?

And how should I tell them?

They were a new client. I was worried about how they would receive the information. I tried to be gentle, but direct.

No one searches for a word they don’t know.

The point of SEO is to help people find you when searching for something like your product. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

I wasn’t sure how they would take it. They had invested a lot of time and energy in their product.

But I was NOT telling them the product was bad, or the new word was not a great description.

I was telling them that “phygital” was simply not going to be the lead magnet they hoped. It was simplest to be straightforward and let them know.

Not that they had a bad concept or idea, but that the marketing work was different than the creation of a new concept.

They came to me not just to complete a task, but to make their product and their SEO approach productive. I could complete the writing as assigned, but I would not be doing my work unless I told them the truth.

I held my breath, then sent a reply saying it as gently as possible. I kept the main point the same:

No one searches for a word they don’t know.

“Phygital” had a place

The term had a place, just not as their primary SEO search driver. I was able to incorporate it into multiple posts and they featured it prominently on their site.

But their primary search terms were … well, in the interest of keeping client information confidential, I will just say that we choose a much more specific set of search terms.

“Phygital” didn’t die. It just found its place.

Jack Jose is a freelance writer. This post was cross-published at his site,

Freelance writer/editor | Published educator: Angels and Superheroes | Prevent gun violence | Top Rated 100% Upwork | | he/his

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